Saturday, 25 April 2009


I’ll be having some biscuits later today.

Ignoring some of the inane comments on YouTube, SmileyNoir’s posted a good photostory set to The Pogues’ music. It is good to remember the dead, to look into their eyes in photographs, to steal a glimpse into their lives – maybe it curbs the hindsight, adds to the empathy, and makes us wonder how we would cope. Whilst our squaddies fight in different parts of the world, we squabble over getting cut up by some idiot trying to get to a meeting a few seconds earlier, or neighbours throwing shopping trollies over the fence, or shout at the tv when some prat tells us that Ghurkhas don’t deserve to live in a country that they have fought to protect.

Maybe old photographs let us civvies get things into perspective, and think that our lot in life could be far worse. Maybe it shows that some things haven’t changed much. Maybe we could live better lives, and give the dead more meaning. We stand on the shoulders of giants. Do something worthy of their passing.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Crowing On

Something I said earlier in the week caused my brain to revisit “The Crow”. Searching through my tapes, I remembered that the car had eaten my album over a decade ago, and I’d never got round to replacing it.

Album ordered from Play before I forget again.

Sunday, 12 April 2009


One of the books I got in the excellent Ullapool Book Shop yesterday was the "Kingdom of the Isles:Scotland’s Western Seaboard, 1100–1336" by R. Andrew McDonald. I noticed that, once more, it was a book from the publishers, Birlinn. Rather appropriately, it features a birlinn on the cover, as seen on the right of the carving.


Sholto of Scheltrum Miniatures has been modelling some birlinn, and some of us at the club are talking about a "Lord of the Isles” campaign. It should be fun, and give us clansmen a bit of personal background to research.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Right Turn for Lyngdal

Using to see where other ships out on the Minch are going. Weather channels are open and commented on too.

MV Iisle of Lewis

Unlimited Rice Pudding

In the caravan last night, looking at the weather forecast via my mobile phone, and showing videos of my niece singing Abba songs whilst she’s hidden under a table (I have a feeling that she’s going to hate that cutesy clip in years to come), I wondered why I hadn’t hooked up the notebook via the mobile phone to the Net. Simple reason – I hadn’t needed to.

So there was a task for me whilst Mr Ramsay was having a time of it sorting out a Mexican. I new I could use the Nokia 6220c as a mobile dial-up modem, but went in search of a way to use it with my O2 mobile phone contract (unlimited data transfer) rather than via my home broadband connection.

It turns out that there is a button on the Nokia Suite that allows this. So I downloaded it on to the phone’s memory card, as Nokia had, thankfully, included the whole install file instead of just a wee install stub. I left the phone working on that 35mb download overnight and recharged the battery in the morning (handy USB phone cable just plugs into notebook).

In the morning, I use bluetooth to transfer the file across to the notebook. I haven’t really used bluetooth too much, but was impressed by the transfer rate. A simple install, bish bash bosh and a button-press, and I can see the weather forecast for the Minch on XC-Weather without having to strain my eyes.

It is an awful lot easier to use than pinking out messages on the phone’s keyboard, or trying to read messages on the wee screen, or browsing a forum without the aid of tabs. At 115kbps, I wonder if it can handle the BBC iPlayer. Mitch Benn (6,589 followers)(S. Fry 398,220 followers; B Obama 21,398; Fred MacAulay 98) twittered on Thursday that the old gang were back together again. As the caravan walls are paper thin, I’d better get the headphones out and stifle my guffaws.

A few minutes later, and the little swirly thing goes round, the connection resets itself, and – for some reason as yet unknown – the headphone socket is ignored and the sounds come out of the speakers; I think I’ll close the iPlayer page down, and wait for the Saturday repeat on the car radio.

Now … I’m off to find out what the issue is with the headphone socket that wasn’t there before. Typical computer problem that. Find one solution, and it causes a separate problem – I bet it has something to do with bluetooth. Hmm, maybe it is using the phone as a speaker and was playing back through that. Well, it keeps my brain ticking over as the sound of breathing comes from various close relatives, over the sound of the river and the crows outside.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Push on through to the other side

Glenshee with a few remnants of snow visible belies the avalanche warning posted in braemar mountain sports. No doubt dawn will have some good photos when she's back. I'm on the kilkof syrup and radio 4. Got to see the osprey exos 46 litre pack in braemar. A lot of good features but i'm put off by the inner pouch for the hydration system. Unless it is different on the bigger pack, i'll be sticking with my trusty atmos pack. No deer visible, just a lot of dead bunnies. Poor things.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

S-i-N City

Sally-in-Norfolk is interviewed by Radio Norfolk. Along with another lady, they talk about Facebook, blogging and twittering.

Sadly I squirmed at the need for the presenters to explain to the audience what the heck it is all about. I can’t help but think that the folk had the same issues when trying to explain the advantages of the printed word in the 15th century. I guess that’s why I have a book on order about the growth of the telegraph system. Just to see if there are any similarities between then and now. Humans tend to repeat experiences and attitudes, so I’d be surprised if there wasn’t any similarities.

Surprisingly the presenters then push their own Facebook group. Hey ho. I must have picked up the negative-sounding comments wrong then.

Sally’s post  - 2 hrs 10 mins in on iPlayer link, plus some chatter later.

There’s a defence of the blogs at 2hrs 35mins in.

Me? I don’t care. If people can’t be bothered, then they don’t have to. The world carries on. FFS, get a life, get your own life. Some people can get through life without ever needing to drive, or use a video recorder, or tv. Life goes on. It is part of the joys of humanity – we are all different, we all have differing passions. We are allowed to be different. Embrace that. I’ve given up defending what I do.

This is different from making people aware of what modern technology can do. And this changes on a daily basis – just look at the articles on to see the changing face of online technology, and the pace at which it moves. There are some studies that say that emails are in decline – yet many people see the email as a modern way of communicating. I get more texts than I do emails, or tweets, or blog articles that I read on a regular basis. But that is just me, and my technological/age-group, for others it will be their Bebo or Facebook pages. This all raises an interesting problem for education – how can we teach people about communication tools if they have not yet been invented. Heck, it is really quite simple. We don’t. We teach the advantages of good communications, and the disadvantages of bad communication. We teach the difference between face-to-face communications and letter-writing. Of mass-communication and communicating with friends. And of communicating with different media.

Although the technology changes, the essence of it does not. We are humans, and the tools we develop are there to help us in different ways. They allow us to communicate across distances, across time zones, through language barriers (press the Babel-fish logo on the sidebar), ignoring race, colour, age, or gender re-alignment. Things that our forefathers could not do are now done on a daily basis by people. Our lives can be made easier, but not necessarily happier or more fulfilling. For that, we have art. Hold on to that which makes us happy, and continue to dream the impossible dream.

gReader Catchup: Next iPhone

Caught up on some of the MacRumors about the next iPhone.

  • the next-generation iPhone will have "a significantly faster Internet connection." While no further information is given as to whether this is referring to cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity. source
  • the new iPhone would indeed have a video camera. source
  • New iPhone announcement around mid-June. source
  • Supporting only 802.11n devices on a wireless network can significantly improve performance.
    If Apple does indeed provide video recording and publishing, it certainly makes sense to offer some limited editing/clipping ability. source
  • 802.11n wireless connectivity … also supports both reception and transmission of FM radio signals.
    Apple has certainly been known not to enable all features their hardware is capable of, and FM reception/transmission is one that have shown no interest in supporting in the past. source
  • The discovery that Apple's next iPhone might contain both video input as well as a magnetometer (digital compass) opens up some interesting possibilities for future iPhone applications.
    Examples of how this could be used include pointing your iPhone's camera at a building and the phone telling you what building it is by combining GPS, accelerometer and compass information. The iPhone could even overlay graphics and text on top of the image to provide additional information. Another application described is the ability to show information about stars and constellations simply by pointing your iPhone towards the sky. source

I’m counting the days already. Even if they are just rumours at this stage.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Devil is in the Details

The book that was ordered via Amazon has finally been delivered. The “Home Delivery Network” saga previously written now has a twist.

Checking online, I find that the package has a strangely shortened trail:

Date Depot Action Reason
06/04/2009 19:26:23 Aberdeen Depot Unable to Deliver
08/04/2009 06:33:36 Aberdeen Depot Unable to Deliver Held
08/04/2009 09:03:23
Aberdeen Depot Loaded onto vehicle  

The company’s own Parcel History Enquiry Report – kindly taped to the package has a strangely differing tale, and mentions a Saturday 4/4/09 07:36 attempted deliver, and a “card left with customer”. This from a company that doesn’t deliver on a Saturday, and had also been told to re-deliver on the Monday afternoon … and I received no card, and was up and about at that time, as I would shortly be leaving to collect another delivery from Parcel Force.

The Call Card Information System also taped to the packet notes on 2/4/09  “pls redeliver prcel on mon 06/03/09 thanks”. So, no mention of afternoon (I’ll ignore the wrong month, as that’s an easy mistake to make).

The reply from the depot is “will locate and re deliver”. I receive another failed delivery card on the 3rd, and phone the call centre. This triggers a caps lock “PLEASE REDLVER ON MONDAY. THANKS” once more, no mention of afternoon despite being re-assured. The strange reply from the depot seems to indicate that they hadn’t removed my packet from the delivery rota for the 3rd “if fails will re deliver”.

And then on the 6th of April (Monday) the call centre sends to the depot “parcel supposed to be out today but not leave depot, cust very angry please ensure parcel is ofd 8/4”.

Amazon’s tracking system does not show a Saturday redelivery attempt. I was also informed that they would not re-deliver on the Saturday for Amazon. Here’s my tracking report:

Date Phoned Reason Action
Call Centre 1st Card left
Do not redeliver until Monday afternoon
Call Centre 2nd Card left Why did you try to re-deliver today? Do not redeliver until Monday afternoon
NA NA HDN now say they left me a card on Saturday morning.
Call Centre No delivery In all Monday. No delivery. HDN can’t redeliver on Tuesday as too late in day now. HDN will redeliver on Wednesday
Amazon/Blog Pi55ed off with HDN Wrote up blog article and posted it to Amazon. Gayathri P wrote to apologise.
NA Packet delivered Wrote up blog article to wrap up this behind-the-scenes look at what happens when deliveries are screwed up.

And the book? It looks beautiful. I aim to spend a day just watching the whole tv series and immerse myself in the book, stealing ideas and triggering new projects. A definite rainy-day task.

Without stories, we have nothing. Even before the book gets here, it has triggered phone calls and emails. Life is too short to care that a delivery company screws up once, and I hope it is only once. Sadly, most people seem to have their own horror stories, and it is a shame that many relate to Internet shopping. As the industry matures, I hope that the delivery system matures with it. I’m already planning to walk up town next time instead of using the convenience of online shopping. Life is too short to fight through this type of convenience on a weekly basis.

Return of the Jingle

Nice to see the return of a catchy jingle.

I guess this is a response to the easy-to-remember 118118 number. For some reason they are now one of two Ghostbusters-related adverts on tv; the other is for a car. Primary message forgotten, it just reminds me of the film.

Back on message, there’s more of Weebl’s stuff here

gReader Catchup: The Goat

For the first time in a week, I didn’t wake up drowning in phlegm – huzzah, so the ‘natural’ drugs win out over the chemist-bought ones. So I have a few extra minutes in the morning that aren’t spent coughing and duly giving my ribs an aching workout. So I spent them catching up with Backcountry’s “The Goat” blog. News items I noted:

Thanks to The Goat guys for a pre-breakfast read.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Fanboy, originally uploaded by dimacleod.

Do i buy things because of memories of good times enjoying good tv shows? Hell yeah!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Problem with the Twiddly Bits

I went on a book shopping spree last Sunday, and ordered 3 books via Amazon. Paddy Griffith’s “Battle Tactics of the Western Front” arrived on Saturday. I have read some of his other books, and I like his style. I have 3 books left. Looking at my account, I see that the problem I have been having with the “Home Delivery Network” relates to the book-of-the-series “The Genius of Photography”.

The saga starts with a card on the Thursday. “A re-attempt to deliver your parcel will be made on the next working day”. Well, I’ll be at work, and it is the hired help’s day off, and the stable-lad is away visiting his sick aunt in Aboyne, and the milk-maid is in confinement. Oh, yes, I forget, I don’t live in the 19th century any more. It is the 21st century, and most people are at work during the day!

So, I call up the company to arrange re-delivery at the weekend. “We don’t deliver at the weekend”, says she. “But is says you do on the card I have”, says I. “We don’t do weekend deliveries for Amazon”, she ‘explains’. Aah, splutters I. Well, what about Monday – I’m on holiday then, so we agree on Monday afternoon.

So I was surprised to find a 2nd card waiting for me on Friday. So I call up the company again. “We had agreed on a Monday re-delivery, so why did your driver try to re-deliver on Friday?”, asks I. “Will this affect the Monday re-delivery?”, asks I. “No, you are still logged for a Monday afternoon re-delivery”, says he.

So … Monday. I cough and splutter, and agonise my way through the day, and by 5.30pm, there is no delivery. I call the company. “Where’s my package?”, asks I, trying to maintain a calm, firm voice, but failing as I cough and wheeze in the spaces. “It is still at the depot”, she says. “I will be logging a complaint with Amazon”, says I, “this is the third phone-call, and all for the delivery of a book!” “It won’t be until Wednesday now”, says she". “Pardon?” says I. “Well, the depot’s closed, and it is too late now to have it redelivered on Tuesday”, she says. “Well, it is hit or miss whether I will be in, and I really don’t care any more. It is only a book. If it gets returned to the seller, I will merely cancel the contract.” “Oh, and please pass on my venom to the depot, as it isn’t your fault”, says I to the now-startled lady.

I was rather surprised to see that the tracking of the package logged against today was:

Aberdeen Depot  06/04/2009  Unable to Deliver  11:07:28  Awaiting advice
Point one: 11am is not “the afternoon”.
Point two: I have been in all day, unable to move far without being in pain.
Point three: there has been no card left.
Point four: it is only a book, how fecking difficult is it to do that? Well, according to the word count – it is 458 words over three telephone conversations. Three failed deliveries (the depot says), and the associated carbon-footprint. It is this sort of palaver that is the bane of internet shopping. It is certainly causing me to think again about the so-called ‘ease’ of online shopping.

The title refers to the days when I was driving long distances. The problem wasn’t getting from A to B. The problem was getting through the complex road systems at B to get to the actual destination.

Time Team Special

So .. if Alan's LEJOG was the "guidebook to pubs & restaurants" and Mick & Gayle's was "guidebook to being chased by farming animals", it looks like Geoff's is going to be the Time Team one. Good one.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Linx B-tube

Linx B-tube, originally uploaded by dimacleod.

Linx b-tube arrives. It looks good and feels good. For a few seconds i forget my lurgy and leave my breathing to a lower brain function. For a wee while. Watching last week's "old dogs" and seeing behind the scenes of John Simpson's journey to Afghanistan. Lots to do. And I'm on holiday now.


Added “out of the box” video.