Sunday, September 06, 2009

Snow Leopard and Steel Panther.

The photo above shows the moment I started the upgrade of my iMac to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Suffice to say all I had to do was insert the installation DVD and follow the simple instructions. Forty minutes and two reboots later I had a fully updated Macintosh. Snow Leopard superficially is not very different from its' predecessor, but under the bonnet it has been completely rewritten to make the operating system smaller, sleeker and more efficient. It certainly seems run make my Mac run around 20% faster with no upgrade in hardware. This is a lesson Micro$oft could do with learning – forget the bloat and concentrate on efficiency.

Talking of efficiency, this is also something the local bus company could take on board. The 99 bus service has now been running on its' new route since the middle of January; I get their double deckers running past my house – something that has taken quite a bit of getting used to. The problem is, the buses seem to get bogged down in Slade Green, in the area close to Slade Green station. Last week I waited forty minutes for a 99 bus in Erith, then three turned up at the same time! One then promptly went out of service and the passengers decamped onto the bus I was on; bearing in mind it was already crowded, it made for a very unpleasant experience. I know a lot of people have been whingeing about the situation, what I am unsure about is just how many have contacted the bus company or Transport for London to do anything about it. I have also noticed a marked increase in ticket fraud on the route – some bus drivers are more vigilant than others in policing the problem, only yesterday I witnessed two Chav girls trying to board using a single ticket; fortunately the driver spotted this and forbade either from getting on board. After much foul mouthed protestation, and with the driver threatening to call the police, both girls got off. A small victory.

My tickets have now arrived for the recording of two episodes of the excellent wartime radio comedy series Hut 33. No doubt this will merit a blog entry of its' own in due course.

I notice from the news that former deputy London Mayor Ian Clement has been charged with fraud over his expenses claims whilst in office. It will take a jury to determine his guilt or otherwise; I have to say I used to know him slightly, as we went to the same school, and if my somewhat hazy memory serves, he was a right old Tory Boy way back then.

I have seen several stories in both the local and national press, as to how gang members and other scumbag low lives are using dogs as weapons.

Local free radio station WNKR get a mention in the Media Network programme on Radio Netherlands International, the world's longest running media and entertainment radio show. You can see the on line version by following the link here. Radio Netherlands are one of the foremost shortwave broadcasters, in both Dutch and English. Shortwave radio is a rather overlooked medium nowadays, but it provides a fascinating and challenging way of hearing the world. Some of the links on the right of this text will take you to shortwave radio websites – have a click around and see what you think.

I have just added my name to the online petition to get Alan Turing a posthumous pardon and knighthood. Turing was a mathematician, cryptanalyst and Olympic standard athlete whose theories formed a large part of the foundation of modern computing - the Turing test for artificial intelligence was created by, and named after him. He was instrumental in breaking the four rotor German Naval Enigma code during WW2, and much of his theoretical work enabled Tommy Flowers and his team at the Dollis Hill Post Office research station to construct Colossus – the World's first computer. Turing was a true genius, who foresaw the computer age in what he described the “General purpose computer”. He died by his own hand, aged 41 after being persecuted, stripped of his security clearance and eventually being forced to undergo chemical castration due to his “mental illness”. His crime was being gay in pre – 1960's Britain. After insufferable persecution he ate an apple laced with cyanide in an ironic tribute to his favourite story, Snow White. The logo used by Apple Computers showing an apple with a bite taken from it is a direct tribute to Alan Turing. The video clip below from Manchester local television news covers his story, and the campaign both to clear his name and see him officially recognised for his contribution in shortening the second world war by what some historians consider may have been up to two years.

Coincidentally, I am only now discovering that my late Great Uncle Horace may well have had some part in the war time code breaking efforts. I recall when I was a child, he was always extremely reticent about his war time activities, it has only been recently uncovered that he lived in Hendon during the war, and all his adult life he worked for the GPO as a telephone exchange engineer, ending up as chief engineer for the City of London. He was certainly a far more colourful character than anyone in the family realised until only a few weeks ago. It is not beyond belief that he may well have worked at Dollis Hill – on my next visit to Bletchley Park I will attempt to find out.

I am currently sitting in my usual corner of the bar in the Robin Hood and Little John typing this entry whilst awaiting the delivery of my lunch (veggie Kiev with chips, mixed green salad and grilled mushrooms). At the table next to me are a group of six extremely intellectual and vocal Catholic priests and an archetypal bespectacled, buck toothed nun, talking shop (subjects have included the slow chanting by Carthusian monks, and their special devotion; the use of mea culpa when making a mistake in a chant, and later the morality of revolution – all heavy stuff) and mainly drinking Brakspeares best bitter – every so often, one of the younger ones keeps on breaking into bits of hymns – most off-putting. It is almost like a deleted scene from an episode of Father Ted!

Can someone please enlighten me as to why some parents are so keen on getting their babies' ears pierced? It strikes me as nothing short of child abuse – bodily mutilation under a socially acceptable guise. The child has no say in the matter, and if, at a later point they decide to remove the earrings, they are going to be left with a permanent scar. I have major issues with the whole concept of making non medical changes to ones' body. Basically I think it is unmerited – hence my previous postings regarding tattoos. I still find it beyond comprehension that the Point to point Erith tattoo parlour offers gift tokens, which many of the local population seem more than keen to take up. The place seems to be almost continually busy usually with repeat customers. I suppose it takes all sorts.

Period comedy movie about offshore radio “The Boat that Rocked” comes out on DVD and Bluray next week. As I previously posted, the film is far better than one would be led to believe; the portrayal of life on board an offshore radio station, though idealised, is far closer to the truth than I was expecting.

Here is a video of an absolutely stunning guitar / drum solo by Satchel, guitarist with the incomparable heavy rock combo Steel Panther - they rock!


  1. Hugh,
    Love the blog. Very interesting reading. Just to point out that sadly "Media Network" has not been carried as a programme by Radio Netherlands for some years now. It exists only in its online state these days.

  2. This is a lesson Microsoft could do with learning – forget the bloat and concentrate on efficiency.

    Windows 7 is pretty efficient - it compares well with Debian Lenny on the same low-ish spec machine apart from boot time. It's as good as XP on both other machines which has surprised me. Vista users who switch should see a big performance boost.

  3. Just saw that Steel Panther are supporting ZZ Top for their UK gigs!