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Sunday, 30 July 2006

Update - Help! My Broadband Is Sick 8-(

Original post - Help! My Broadband Is Sick And No-One Will Listen 8-(

I did some further research into my particular model of cable modem and discovered that it is particularly susceptible to line noise. I found out how to interrogate the modem and noticed that it was reporting a high level of errors. It was quite clear that the incoming transmissions were quite low and the signal to noise ratio was higher than I would have expected.

The other thing I noticed was that after it had failed to communicate with my ISP it was reporting that everything was fine! Not a very useful reporting log. I made a copy of the log to use next time I phoned the helpline.

The following morning I stepped out of my front door and almost fell over two of my cable company’s engineer’s peer into a cable duct outside my house. Great Scott, maybe someone is listening after all!

Wonder of wonders, my fault has been fixed now and the line levels have returned to normal. It would have been nice to be told by the technician I phoned, that they would be looking into my fault. Just an e-mail would have done and it would have been good PR too.

Oh well, another missed opportunity on their part.

Normal service has been resumed and I am a happy bunny once more.


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Saturday, 29 July 2006

Moan, Moan, Moan, Whinge, Whinge, Whinge.

I've just had a quick scan through my resent posts and it suddenly hit me that I've been doing far too much moaning of late. I'll try to be more positive here in future, as I'm in real danger of becoming a 'Grumpy Old Man'.

This isn't good for one so (relatively) young. More humour injections are required me thinks!

Now where did I put my slippers and pipe?


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Friday, 28 July 2006

Help! My Broadband Is Sick And No-One Will Listen 8-(

Over the past few weeks or so I’ve been having major grief with my cable broadband connection. It would fail periodically for no apparent reason. A quick re-boot of the cable modem would soon sort this out and I’d be back on-line within a couple of minutes. However, in the last week things have become much worse, with failure arriving every 20 minutes or so. This increase in frequency appears to be linked the heat wave we are currently experiencing. It always goes when I’m right in the middle of writing a blog or up-loading photos to one of my many websites. Quite frankly it’s driving me round the bend.

Last Friday evening I final decided to ring my ISP to complain and suggested that the modem is probably on its last legs. After explaining this in quite technical detail to the engineer, he asked me to re-boot the modem yet again. I decided to humour him and closely followed the instructions, which he appeared to be reading off a pre-written training list. I was quite amused by his request to remove all the connections one-by-one while the power was off. Quite what this would have achieved was beyond me.

Once all the silly ‘following the script’ procedure was over, all was well. I pointed out to him that I had already explained that I have done the same thing every 20 minutes for the past fortnight, but it still fails again as regular as clockwork. His reply was ‘Is it working now?’. ‘Of course it is, I already explained that it would be working after a re-boot. It will fail again in 20 minutes time’. ‘But it’s OK now?’ he replied. ‘Yes’ I said. ‘Well my work is done then. Can I help you with anything else?’ said he. ‘Yes. Send me a new modem please. This one has an intermittent fault’ said I. ‘But it’s OK now, isn’t it?’.

I just gave up and made the decision to phone him back every 20 minutes, when it failed and complain until I got my message across. However, this week I have been to busy to make his life hell. Maybe next week.

Before you make a decision about my conduct in this matter, I would like to make it clear that I’m a professional engineer in industrial control systems and I do know a failed piece of equipment when I see it.

I’m not just a whinging consumer.
I’m a whingeing consumer with hands-on experience with
very similar equipment.

Here endith the whinge.


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Thursday, 27 July 2006

In the Beginning.... (Joke)

I received this via e-mail from a colleague today. It’s so bad I just had to share my pain with you all. Enjoy……maybe.

An old, bearded shepherd with a crooked staff walked up to a stone pulpit and said, "And lo, it came to pass that the trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot."

And Dot Com was a homely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg.Indeed, she had been called Amazon Dot Com. And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why doth thou travel far, from town to town, with thy goods when thou can trade without ever leaving thy tent?"

And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, Dear?" And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale and they will reply telling you which hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had, at the top price, without ever moving from his tent. But this success did arouse envy.

A man named Maccabia did secret himself inside Abraham's drum and was accused of insider trading. And the young man did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Siderites, or NERDS for short.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums, that no one noticed that the real riches were going to the drum maker, one Brother William of Gates, who bought up every drum company in the land. And indeed did insist on making drums that would work only if you bought Brother Gates' drumsticks.

And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others." And as Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or as it came to be known "eBay," he said, "we need a name that reflects what we are," and Dot replied, "Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators."

said Abraham.

"No, YAHOO!" said Dot Com.. .and that is how it all began.

It wasn't Al Gore after all.

Sorry fellow bloggers, but it tickled me.


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Tuesday, 25 July 2006

National flags ban to be lifted

St. George's Cross
Originally uploaded by Trance-Elbow.

It would appear that I and thousands of others have recently been unwittingly breaking the law. Apparently it is currently illegal in English to fly a National flag outside your house, unless it is mounted on a vertical pole. If it’s displayed at any other angle it becomes “Advertising”, for which your need planning permission. Poppy-cock I say. It I want to fly any of my collection of St. George’s crosses or Union flags I will and to hell with this stupid law.

I’m proud to be English and if I want to let people know, I will. So there!

However, it would appear that the “Westminster Muppet Show” have decided to repeal this law soon. And I should think so too. It’s totally ridiculous.

Background from BBC - National flags ban to be lifted

Now I’ve got that off my chest I shall wind my neck in and sign off.

Until next time Bloggers.


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Sunday, 23 July 2006

Barbeque Chaos

Last weekend I suggested that as the weather has been so nice, we should have a barbeque sometime the following weekend. When my Mum mentioned it to Dad, his eyes lit up with anticipation. The reason for his enthusiasm was mainly due to the fact that he suffers, quite badly now, from Multiple Sclerosis and rarely gets out to meet people. He then asked if my Wife’s Dad had also been invited, which of course he had. When our two Dad’s get together it’s impossible to shut them up. They could talk continuously for weeks if left to their own devices. Christmas is always entertaining.

After a few phone calls here and there, the date was set for yesterday evening at 4pm (Saturday).

I spent the morning cleaning the barbeque and made the grim discovery that I’d failed to clean it after it’s last use, which would probably been last summer. Much scrubbing later and it was as good as new.

Fast forward to the evening and I was merrily blacking poor defenceless sausages, burgers and pieces of chicken, while my beautiful assistant (my Wife) was preparing various salady type stuff in the kitchen. Our guest were all seated on the patio yakking away 19 to the dozen. I can only assume that they were looking forward to receiving the nicely charred objects from the barbeque while they chatted.

Just as the afore mentioned salady type nutriments were placed on the table and the last un-identifiable object was been extracted from the barbeque, the heavens opened. Then ensued a mad scrabble of items from the table and a dash into the dinning room. The timing was almost prefect to within a second.

As we all stood like sardines around the dining table, I was complimented on the quality of my blacked meats. It was difficult to decide whether they were just being polite or genuinely meant it as the alcohol was working nicely. Although it was noted that all except one piece of chicken was consumed fairly swiftly. Even that wasn’t wasted as out cat polished it of later in the evening.

Why is it that we persist with barbequing perfectly edible food to a charred crisp when we have a fully functional kitchen just feet away? Stupid isn’t, but we still do it time and time again!

“At twelve noon the natives swoon and no further work is done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”
Noel CowardMad dogs and Englishmen From the musical revue "The Third Little Show" (1924)


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Thursday, 20 July 2006

Is It Nuclear or Just Unclear?

Previous Posts –
Who Turned Off All The Lights?
Who Turned Off All The Lights? – Update

I received a reply from Greenpeace about my proposal. Do they want to see my figures or take up my mad cap plan? Well not exactly. What they said was,

Dear Chris

Thank you for your email and interest in the issue.

Greenpeace has been campaigning on this for along time and one of our simplest arguments, like yours, has been that it would be far cheaper, even if you were to believe the nuclear industry’s extremely optimistic financial costs, to employ other greener/cleaner means of meeting our energy needs. This argument has fallen on deaf ears as Blair’s government have been hell bent on new nuclear, even though it has been proven by themselves to be the wrong answer for the UK.

Greenpeace is working very hard to get the government to take on Decentralised Energy which negates the need for new nuclear and will ensure that we meet our climate and energy needs at far less cost. For more information on this:……….

Looks like a standard letter to me. Perhaps St. Jude was right with her comment,

“Please don't hold your breath waiting for everyone to get back to you. They like to talk, but very rarely do they like to listen.”

I’m still waiting for Friends of the Earth to get back to me. Maybe they will be more positive. No breath holding, I promise.


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It's worse than that. It's died Jim!

Update on yesterday - I’m Feeling Deflated – Yet Again 8-(

After I finished writing yesterdays blog (link above), I started experiencing few broadband connection problems. A quick reset of the modem seemed to solve the problem for about 20 minutes or so. After the 12th reset, I was getting a bit cheesed off, so I just gave up for the day and sulked off to bed.

Mum took the aforementioned punctured tyre to the bike shop this morning to facilitate a repair on my behalf. They had not, as previously expected, run out of Honda shaped repair kits. The tyre however, was certified ‘Dead on Arrival”. Because the head of the nail had gone in at quite a steep angle, it had made a hole bigger than could be safely repaired.

All this brings me to ask the following,

- Is it the why I ride my bike that makes me particularly susceptible to picking up screws and nails?
- Why can’t other road users take more care with the detritus than they carry around?
- Why me? It never seems to be anyone else’s turn for a puncture!
- Why are bike tyres so much more expensive than car tyres?

I’ve just work out the stats,

Front Wheel – 2 tyres – 0 punctures – in 3 years
Rear Wheel – 6 tyres – 7 punctures – in 3 years

This seems to show a bias towards the back, don’t you think?

I have considered filling the rear tyre with expanding foam, but no one else I’ve mentioned it to thinks it’s a good idea.


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Wednesday, 19 July 2006

I’m Feeling Deflated – Yet Again 8-(

For the second time this year I’m feeling deflated today. Well actually, it’s my bike which is deflated. Yes, that’s correct. I have yet another foreign body stuck in my rear tyre. I noticed it after I got myself kitted up in my leathers and there it was. A nice shiny nail. At least it’s change from the usual screws that I seem to collect.

See Previous Post - My Bike Gained a New Accessory on Thursday

It was at this point that I became un-characteristically angry and frustrated. I’m usually extremely laid back to the point of being horizontal. It wasn't anyone else at homes fault you understand but right then this didn’t seem to matter. I think I shouted that the puncture would have to wait until the weekend as I didn’t have time now and would have to use the train until Monday.

Still in a grumpy mood I rearranged my everyday kit from my tank bag to a rucksack and dashed to the station.

My day wasn’t getting any better at the station. I was late, there was a massive queue for tickets and I had to part with almost a weeks petrol money for one return journey to Croydon. While waiting for my train, which was later than me, there was a cheery announcement, “Please don’t forget that we are on strike this Friday and you’ll have to get to work some other way”. That was my plan out of the window.

When the train finally arrived, I had to stand. I moaned that I’d paid for a ticket I shouldn’t have needed and couldn’t get a seat. Then I suddenly realised that in my hurry to leave home I’d left my office pass in my tank bag. Could today get any worse?

By the time I got to work I’d calmed down considerably and had successfully organised my way around the situation. It involved leaving promptly from work, borrowing my Mum & her car, and a quick dash from the station to the bike shop to have a suitable repair made. Sorted, I thought. It can just be done if everything goes like clock work.

Therefore, on the stroke of 4pm I dashed to the station to complete my carefully planned manoeuvres. However, Network Rail, a trespasser near Chichester and a substation in Bedford have other ideas.

I got home just as the bike shop was closing. Damn & blast!!!!

My kind Mum is taking in tomorrow for me. I’ll bet they will have run out of Honda shaped repair kits by then though.

Never mind, it could be worse. In Shropshire tonight 43,000 homes have no water due to a power failure!

Deep Joy – Now my Broadband modem is playing up again.

SHOOT ME NOW!!!!!!!!!!

"Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!"
(Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo)


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Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Nibbles the White Rat

Nibbles is a cute little chap who lives with a human by the name of Hazel. He is in fact a white Rat with his own blog.

It's not as bad as it first sounds and is very well wrtten, by I assume Hazel. The whole blog is written from the rat, Nibbles, point of view.

Well worth a read. At least, I enjoyed it.

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Monday, 17 July 2006

Strange Bike Names

I can't spell to save my life. I always keep a dictionary to hand now I’m blogging on a regular basis. I know that the “Create Post” window on Blogspot has a spell checker, but it just doesn’t work for me. Everytime I use it my formatting gets messed up.

Tonight I was looking through the V’s for a word which I still can’t spell, when I made a strange discovery. The entry reads as follows,

Virago n (pl Viragos) a noisy, bad-tempered woman.

This tickled me as Yamaha make a bike called Virago.
Therefore, you too could ride a Yamaha Noisy Bad-Tempted Woman this weekend.

Catchy don't you think?


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The Bestest Blog of All-Time

I often use the "Next Blog" button at the top of the Blogspot pages to find random blogs that may be interesting. However, most of the time I end up visiting some sort of sales page or a blog which isn't in English. I've got nothing against languages other than English, but with the except of ordering a beer in Germen, I hopeless lost as to what it's all about.

It has often occured to me that Blogger could do with adding a few filter controls to this search button. "English Only" would be my first suggestion.

Today to button came up trumps and found this,

The Bestest Blog of All-Time

Which seems to offer the answer I've been after. The blogger (name as yet unknown) has written some javascript tucked away behind a button, which searches for blogs that are only in English and claims to have not sales pages listed.

Better than that, He/She also offers a 'Link Exchange' scheme, where I post their link on my blog and He/She does the same. Result - More hits and comments. At least that's the plan. Anyway, I'm signed up. I'll have to wait to see what happens next.


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Day of the Flying Ants - In Croydon At Least

That could almost be the title of a 1960’s ‘B’ movie, but as far as I know it isn’t.

Today seems to be that annual day, in Croydon at least, that the Female ants leave the safety of their nests in order to set up their own colonies. They are everywhere today, including inside my visor.

I first noticed them when I set out for my customary lunchtime stroll. When I saw the wingless ants wandering around the pavements, I thought to myself, "They look strangely large for British ants". It wasn’t until I walked into a swam of winged ones that I realised that they were of course the female of the species looking for new accommodation.

There must have been millions of them flying about the place and they seemed to be everywhere. How on Earth do they all know that today is the day? What happens if some of them have set their clocks wrong and don’t go until tomorrow? Perhaps all the best new homes will have been snapped up by then. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

When I got home tonight there was no sign of the little blitters. Except one which had taken up residance on the front of my visor, but she was an immigrent from Croydon and not a local you understand. We will have to make do with our usual swam of Bumble Bees engulfing the Lavender bush. Perhaps it's not yet our turn to be attacked by those busy little ants. That joy is obviously yet to come.


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Friday, 14 July 2006

I Now Have A Photoblog Of My Own

At last I've managed to find a suitible (read free) Photoblog.

It's on a website called 'fotix.net' . I've only had the account for a couple of days, but so far I'm very impressed.

You can view my photoblog by clicking here or using the link in the 'Links' side bar of this blog.

I look forward to your comments. Hint, hint!


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A Tykes Progress

A Tykes Progress

This is another very interesting blog which I regularly follow.

St. Jude (as she calls herself) has some very interesting observations to share with the world. Her occupation is top secret due to issues of National Security and seems to involve lots of strange people laying on the floor and threatening staff with weapons. Sound like lots of fun to me, if that's your sort of thing?

Me, I'll stick with engineering if it's all the same.

Definatly worth I a read. You won't regret it.


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Who Turned Off All The Lights? - Update

Preivous Post - Who Turned Off All The Lights?

I decided that I needed a second oppinion of my idea, so I contacted both 'Friends of the Earth' and 'Green Peace'.

I also posted a comment with my ideas on the BBC's Forum Website, but they didn't publish it. Perhaps I am wasting my breath after all!

To find out what happens, if anything, watch this space.


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Thursday, 13 July 2006

Who Turned Off All The Lights?

We are told by the powers that be that we are heading towards certain doom and darkness unless replacement electricity generating solutions can be found PDQ. A significant number of our power stations are nearing the end of their useful lives and plans for their replacements must be drawn up as soon as possible.

The Government Westminster Muppet Show has announced plans to build six new Nuclear Power stations around the country. This, we are told, is the only viable solution to our envisaged future power requirements. The projected costs are,

  • £2bn to setup each nuclear power station.

  • £300,000 to clean-up each sight once life expired.

  • The environmental cost is incalculable.

To me the clean-up figure seems very low, but that’s what we are lead to believe!

This means, at today’s prices, that the total ‘cradle to grave’ cost for all Six power station will be at least,

  • £12bn or £12,000,001,800,000

If you look at this another way, it works out at £214,285 for every Man, Woman and Child in the UK!!

That figure even surprised me. Surely I’ve got my figures wrong somewhere. It can’t possibly be that much each, can it?

Anyway, I believe there’s a viable and much cheaper alternative. Why not fit solar panels & small wind turbines to every house in the country? I suspect that it would be a fraction of the cost and far less damaging to the environment.

Perhaps I should mention this idea to Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace.

If someone would like to check my figures I’d be grateful.


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    Sunday, 9 July 2006

    The Football World Cup 2006 Has Finished

    As I'm sure you all know by now, Italy won by beating France in a penalty shootout.

    I only have one comment to make about the game. What was the French player Zinedine Zidane thinking off when he head butted the chest of one of the Italians? It was a moment of complete madness to end the career of a brilliant player. Silly man. I bet he will regret that out-burst for a very long time.

    I've always felt that penalty shootouts are a grossly unfair way to decide who the winner is. They have little to do with sporting skill and everything to do with luck.

    How could this situation be avoided in the first place? I considered that perhaps the teams could play chess to decide the outcome. However, I doubt that many footballers could even spell Chess, let alone play such a game of mental skill. I hardly think that David Beckham and Wayne Rooney would give Gary Kasparov any sleepness nights, do you?

    How about totting up all the red & yellow cards that the team members have accrued during the competition or maybe even a Keepy-Uppy contest?

    If you have any better ideas, please let me know.


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    Saturday, 1 July 2006

    Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride

    It can’t have escaped your attention that England are out of the Football World Cup on Penalties AGAIN!!

    What is it about England teams and penalty shootouts? We just can’t win them. Hopeless at them we are.

    Oh well, in fours years time we will get yet another chance to lose again!

    I'll be washing my flags tomorrow in readiness to store them away 8-(


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    First week review of my new job

    It has been a good week for me, despite the need to use the train during some of this year’s best biking weather.

    My transition to the new / old company has been mostly very smooth and I now have more work than I can shake a stick at. The work is a good thing as I’ve spent most of this year in my previous job naval gazing, which is not me. I need to be creating things, whether they are documents, drawings, reports or pieces of equipment. I don’t really care as long as I’m allowed to be creative I’m help.

    After work on Friday it was time for my leaving do. A little late I agree, but I’d timed it to coincide with three other staff who were leaving this Friday. We started off at the pub and moved onto an Italian restaurant for the rest of the evening. As is usual at such get togethers, I drank and ate far to much and didn’t feel at my best once I finally found my way home. In fact I still felt quite bloated this morning. Luckily I have quite a low alcohol threshold so there were no little men with hammers present today.

    In the great scheme of things I’m an alcohol light weight and rarely drink other than at Christmas. Up until yesterday I’d only had four beers since last Christmas. I do enjoy real ales, but I can’t manage more than a couple at a sitting so don’t often bother. There was a time that I could drink Redbull & Vodka until it came out of my ears (and a few other orifices to boot) and then dance all night. Those nights were usually closely followed by extended calls to God on the big white telephone. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) I can no long do that. Maybe it’s a sign of growing up, perish the thought. A nice cup of tea and a good DVD is more me these days.

    I do believe I’m turning into a Grumpy Old Man.

    Someone pass me my slippers. I’d get them myself, but my back aches too much.


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