Month: <span>November 2005</span>

“I started doing physical comedy, because I was like a moving target. You know what British audiences are like – ‘he’s shit, kill him!’ My upbringing taught me to keep moving”

Lee Evans tonight. Can’t wait. Expecting sore sides tomorrow.

Life

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In the never ending and mind numbingly tedious job that is “adding titles to all my old posts” I’ve been trying to keep a wee log of posts that I think are my best work on this ‘ere blog. Of course this is entirely based on MY preferences and I think it only fair to ask you, dearest reader, for your opinion.

I’ve picked out the following four so far, a couple are quite recent (most of the content from the early years is crap) but I was wondering if you had a favourite post?

I may revisit this post in the future, so I’ll update it with your suggestions.

Blogging

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If, like me, you have a USB drive (or two), you’ll no doubt have it filled with wonderful applications, sync’d with a directory or three on your hard drive, you’ll be using it to store some personal details in a nice secure little application, and maybe even booting from it and other fancy schmancy things.

I’m not going to talk about any of that though, instead I’d like to introduce you to Moo.

Say “hello Moo” (she’s the one of the left in the silver/purple getup).

her ladyship

And here is what Moo looks like when I plug her into my PC.

exploring her ladyship

Moo is no ordinary USB drive though, in fact Moo has a couple of special features that give me a lovely warm glow and make her my favourite USB drive… at least until I can a newer model. Yes, as you can see from the above picture, Moo has her own name and her own icon. Cute, right?

I’ll leave the why for another time but, in case you are interested (and if you’re not, why are you still reading?), here’s the how.

Giving Moo her own icon
To get an icon to display when you plugin in your USB drive:

  1. Copy your favourite icon to your USB drive, don’t bother putting it in a folder though.
  2. Create a text file and add the following lines to it:
    [autorun]
    icon=moo.ico
  3. Save the file to your USB drive, and name it AUTORUN.INF.

Done. Now, when you plug in your USB drive, it’ll show up with the icon of your choice. Ain’t that pretty.

Changing the name of your USB drive is pretty easy. Just open up My Computer, right-click your USB drive and select Rename.

For the more technically minded, you can also set the drive letter permanently.

The really clever bit
There is one other reason I love Moo so dearly and that’s because, unlike other removable media, Moo doesn’t ask me “what do you want to do” when I plugin her in (this is beginning to sound slightly dodgy, like some weird USB porn movie… I digress) … no no, Moo just opens an Explorer window straight away. She’s so considerate. I love you Moo.

So how does Moo achieve this? Simple really.

Open up My Computer, right-click on your USB drive and select Properties. On the Autoplay tab, select the content type (mixed files for most people), and in the Actions list, select to “Open folder to view files using Windows Explorer”. Click Apply, then click OK.

One caveat to this: If the letter assigned to your USB drive changes (which can happen if you plugin another USB device), then the default Autoplay settings will be reset.

And that’s it.

You now have a nice name and a pretty picture (icon) that will be displayed when you plug in your USB drive, and the computer is now smart enough to know that you just want to explore the contents of the drive straight away.

Now, anyone know where I can get some cow-hide fur? I want to make Moo a jacket for the winter.

Additional Info
If you want to create an encrypted USB drive, you can use TrueCrypt and this set of instructions. Personally I just use my Lexar Jumpdrive to hold any information I want to keep secure.

Addendum
Thumb, pen, flash, stick, card and other names are all used to describe these little USB connected memory wotsits. If ever something needed a market leader to set the accepted term it’s the USB drive.

Tech Work

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Dear people who write software programs,

I’m not an unreasonable man, and I understand that software mirrors life in that there are always restrictions, things you just can’t do. I know that there are other people beside me whose needs you are trying to cater for and that their requirements are as valid as mine. I know that you are doing the best you can and sometimes it can be hard to see the wood for the trees.

Platitudes aside, could you please grow a brain!

Why offer a dialog which says “don’t ask me again” and NOT give me a way to turn that dialog back on and reverse my decision. Where is the middle ground? Why must things be so black and white? Is it ALL 1s and 0s with you?

If you know I’ve asked not to see the dialog, you can store that decision. Store the date I made that decision and a few months later let me know the choice I made and ask if I want to change it. It can’t be THAT hard to do.

And no, I shouldn’t have to remember the decisions I make with every single piece of software I use so please don’t presume I do.

Go on, be nice, do the right thing. Even if you don’t want to remind me of the decision at least give me a way to change my mind. Or do you expect my experience and usage of your software to never change? (and if that’s the case do you really expect me to stick around when a competitor comes along?).

These are fickle times, choice abounds and foolish is the man who ignores the options. Make sure that I only have one option by thinking about ME, complete the story, don’t stop because a decision has been made, ask yourself what it would take to change it at a later date.

Do that and I’ll be loyal. Do that and I’ll sell you to my friends and family. Do that and I’m yours forever. Or until something better comes along…

Your long suffering user,

Ev Ree One.

Tech

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Whoooooosh

There goes the weekend!

Saturday morning and we hit Hamilton town centre early. I headed to the shops, Louise headed to Cafe Crema to meet Louise (who she used to work with and who I use to enjoy flirting with on the phone every lunchtime). Home again by noon for a bite of lunch, then off to Dumbarton. Spent the night at my parents and, for the record, my Dad and I won the first two games of Trivial Pursuit, the third was declared a draw as no-one could keep their eyes open long enough to read the questions – best question was definitely “What habit, according to medical experts, leaves professional golfers feeling under par”. I’ll provide the answer later, feel free to try and guess!

Over dinner my Mum regaled us with witty tales and anecdotes, offering wry observations and biting satire. It was simply marvellous, the kind of dinner conversation you dream of having when Stephen Fry pops over, you know the kind…

OK, that’s not strictly true, in truth my Mum told us about how, that very morning in Glasgow’s Princes Square shopping centre (the posh one), she had managed to enter the wrong toilets.

Admittedly, she wasn’t 100% sure when she walked in, and was even less sure as, whilst ‘tinkling’, she spotted the graffiti on the back of the cubicle door. However, the deciding factor was most definitely the gentleman she met as she made good her escape:

“Ohh I’m sorry” he said as he opened the door and was almost bowled over by my scarlet-faced mother, “I must be in the wrong place”.
“No, it’s me” apologised Mum.

And no, I don’t think she stopped to wash her hands. Honestly, some sons do ‘ave ’em.

Later that evening, before we commenced the trivial battle, she managed to empty the dishwasher of the DIRTY mugs and plates, although I guess we can forgive her that one as she was a couple of gins to the good. At that point I proffered that this would all be ideal blog material, and whilst I’ve covered some of my mother’s antics before there are many that go unpunished unmentioned to spare her blushes. Or maybe mine.

Today started slightly blurry, but the farmer’s market gave some salvation in the form of honey roasted cashew nuts. Why are the bad things always SO DAMN TASTY!! Add to that a slice of birthday cake to celebrate my Gran reaching 86, and I’ll be on rice and water for the rest of the week.

Louise and I headed home for dinner and on the way I decided to take her round George Square in Glasgow to see the Christmas lights. By chance we managed to get a parking space right on the square and got out for a wee wander. Next thing we know we are watching fireworks going off behind the City
Chambers building
and wondering why.

Of course! It was part of Radiance – Glasgow Festival of Light. We’d both mentioned this to each other and then completely forgotten about it. As it was Sunday the parking was free so we decided to go for a wander. As I was camera-less (although I did take a couple with my phone) I’ll just say that although we didn’t see all of it, there were several lovely displays and I’ll be keeping an eye out for it next year. Here’s some more proof for you.

A bite of dinner in Babbity Bowster; Cullen Skink for Louise, mince and tatties for me and not a musician in sight. We had thought of nipping into Del Monica’s where our friend Alan runs the bar but it was a little early and neither of us fancied walking around for another two hours until it opened. Of course the fact that they were having a Country & Western night had nothing to do with it…

Life

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Unbeknownst to you, dearest reader, I’ve lost over a stone in the past couple of months. I started at just over 18stone, and I now tickle the scales at considerably more svelte 16st 10lbs. I’ve been weighing myself regularly and have consistently lost at least 2lbs every week.

But not this week.

The fact that I’ve been doubly carefully – two weeks ago I was amazed to have lost weight after stuffing most of a large chocolate cake into my gullet on the Saturday night – and have exercised more in the last week than at any time previously – including two days where I hit the magical 10,000 steps mark on the pedometer (once it got to 11,562!) – was obviously not enough.

I think my body is conspiring against me. As I sit here watching the snow whirl round the cul-de-sac, I can only presume that my brain has decided I need a nice layer of fat to get me through the coming winter months. Either that or I need a really big dump (I’m normally very regular but my ‘schedule’ has been out for the past week or so due to a distinct inability to get to sleep. Not sure if the two are related though).

Did you know that drinking cold (or ice-cold) water can help you lose weight? The thinking is that the body expounds more energy to counteract the chilling effect of the water. Makes sense to me, although I’m not sure how much water you’d need to drink to actually notice a difference. “As part of a calorie-controlled diet” I bet they’d say.

I will not be deterred and to make sure that I retain my “don’t put that in your mouth for, whilst it will taste delicious and heavenly, you are dieting and you MUST SUFFER!” state of mind, I’ve gone to the trouble of creating an Excel spreadsheet to track my weight loss. For those who know me, and know my loathing of the evil columnular work of the devil that is Excel, you’ll realise what a momentus occasion this is, and just wait until you hear how it works!

Yes, rather than just track my weight in pounds, or kilos (106.24 at the moment if you must know), I’ve got it to display stones and my BMI. My inner stats geek is sated, unlike my belly.

As for this weeks blip I’m hoping that my increased exercise has caused a little muscle gain, for I’m certainly happy enough with my decreasing waistline. I even had to put a new notch on my belt at the weekend lest my trousers slip down to my ankles during the morning commute, which would be troublesome when you have one hand holding your bag, and the other holding onto the overhead railing to stop you falling into someone’s lap.

Slightly downhearted but undeterred. The next time I post about my weight will be a stone from now when I reach the weight I was through most of my young(er) adult years. I’m aiming for sometime in January and ignoring the “elephant in the corner” that is Christmas.

Life

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There is one simple rule by which I, and you, can live life.

“It’s never finished”.

Now, I could either get all philosophical on you (almost said “on yo ass” there…) or I could just say that I’m still not 100% happy with the banner (the very top bit) of this site. Energy levels dictate that it’ll be the latter. I’ll tackle the former another day.

Which reminds me, I’ve not done a “what’s in draft?” post for a while..

And yes I have plenty of others things to do, most of which are far more important but there is another philosophy to which I adhere and that is, quite simply, that “life is too short”.

In other news, I now have all of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours Trilogy recorded so I’m looking forward to a quiet Sunday afternoon on the sofa.

And finally, I have to admit that it’s hard to type with tears streaming down your face. Maybe I should change the music to something a little more upbeat than Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around. Yes, it seems like some recent wounds are still a little too raw.

Blogging Media

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Blimey, is it Wednesday already?? Ohhh I did that, right… as you were.

I’d like to ask for two days off work. Tomorrow and Friday will do, so I can be take the time to be thankful for everything I hold dear. And so I can snap up some goodies on Black Friday(that’s for my American chums), mind you I shouldn’t be shopping this Friday as it’s Buy Nothing Day (why does it always fall on payday? Ohh right…).

Now I have to admit that my knowledge of Thanksgiving extends about as far as is possible when it’s entirely based on episodes of Friends. Suffice to say I know that the men watch a game of John Madden while the women cook turkey (or a turducken perhaps?), and that you coat your potatoes with meringue (the horror that is sweet potato pie which I consider an affront to my inherited, Irish, love of potatoes). In saying that I hope you all have a good day and retain your sanity.

Given my limited experience of Thanksgiving, I guess it IS a little rich to have a go so maybe someone can answer me this: why do you get TWO days off? Answers on a postcard. Usual address. Ta.

Back to reality then and I’m still bearing the scars of last weekends exertions. No, nothing kinky (don’t judge me by YOUR deviant standards … thankeweverymuch) we were building, well constructing, two flat-pack wardrobes. At some point I took a slice of skin off the knuckle of my thumb then, just as the stinging had stopped, I did it again on the exact same spot. I’m glad my youngest nephew (11) was downstairs or he may have learned a new word or five… thinking about it he probably knows them all already.

I’m not sure that this is a good thing but we’ve now built so many different types of flat-pack furniture that we rarely need to refer to the instructions and when we do, we understand them! We already know that the peg thingy will go THERE and then we’ll tighten the wee lock thingy onto the peg thingy with a Dave Allen key. That last sentence should make sense if you have ever built anything from IKEA. Of course I had neglected to charge my electric screwdriver so it was a largely manual job which is probably why I’ve got a double-deep chunk of skin missing from my left hand.

Sunday saw us start our Xmas shopping. We are lucky to have a large shopping centre near us in East Kilbride which is only a ten minute drive away and is completely under cover. Saves us trailing into the madness that is Glasgow city centre at this time of year. Louise had been saving up to get shopping vouchers – you pay a set amount each month and receive the money back in the form of vouchers, they can be used in just about all high street shops – so despite a lack of cash we managed to get about a third of our shopping done. It was a little tempting to treat it like monopoly money though but thankfully we already knew what we were going for and how much it would cost. Incidentally, and this may not be news to many of you but I never really pay attention to these things, most shops have sales on NOW to try and entice you to part with your money. We got several items at marked down prices. Bonus.

We were also treated, during a pitstop for lunch, to a few tunes from a full Highland Pipe band as Sunday was the day that Santa arrived for his stay at East Kilbride shopping centre. As is traditional (?) his sleigh was accompanied on a march round the shopping centre (twice) by a skirl of bagpipes, which certainly made the discussion, of what to get Uncle Bruce, interesting. Mind you, I do feel sorry for all the other boys and girls as Santa has, for the 9th straight year, chosen East Kilbride as his December home. Sorry about that and whilst I hate to break it to you I think you should know that all the other Santas are imposters.

This coming weekend will mean more shopping, and possibly a chance to catch up with some friends. Over a bottle of wine. Or five. Yes, it’s been a long week. Is it Wednesday already?

Life

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