bookmark_borderCalling All Scottish Technical Writers

(OK, mainly aiming at West of Scotland)

Following a recent discussion about ISTC local area groups, a few of us based in the West of Scotland have decided to try to set up a local group.

Our first meeting will be on Thursday 15th January 2009. If you work in the area (or further away), please come along to meet other writers and talk about technical writing.

We’ll meet at 7 p.m. in the offices of Sumerian in Glasgow city centre, at 19 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4BG. Tea & coffee provided.

If you plan to come along, please email me so we can get a rough idea of how many writers might be attending:

gordon [DOT] mclean AT gmail [DOT ] com

(if you can figure out the email address you are allowed to attend 😉 )

Now, what on earth will we talk about??

bookmark_borderMooo.. scellaneous

Nature is a wonderous thing, offering us such beauty and inspiration that sometimes it boggles the mind. Be it a particular cloudscape, a shimmering lake or the steaming placenta lying next to a just-born calf…

OK, it wasn’t ideal to see such a sight first thing in the morning but it certainly woke me up. Thankfully I hadn’t had breakfast (I’m munching on my All Wheat Muesli as I type this). However as spring rolls on, it seems that new-borns are in the air, so let me pause here to congratulate my mate Bill and his lovely wife Fran on the birth of their son, Gregory. I’m sure that, with the many years of loving and careful nurturing that they’ll give him, he’ll soon be a rampant alcoholic likes his Dad. I’m kidding of course, it’s his Mum that’s the alcoholic…


Since returning from Spain we’ve done little of note. That makes for a dull blog, but of course I can always fall back on techy stuff. Which is just as well as the ‘human interest’ side of life is a little flat at the moment, unless you allow me to rant on about the various arseholes I deal with every day on my daily commute. Ohh go on… BMW drivers aren’t all that bad, van drivers can be the most maliciously dangerous wankers, and don’t even start me on private taxis!!


Of course I’ll have human interest overload come Saturday as it’s blogmeet time again. For anyone travelling through from Glasgow, aim to take the 12noon train (GNER to London Kings Cross). The train stops at Motherwell, where I’ll get on, and Edinburgh Waverley. Let’s meet on the last carriage (the back of the train).

If you are still interested in going but are unsure of directions and whatnot then drop me an email (gordon AT gordonmclean DOT co DOT uk).


Which reminds me, a couple of people have tried to contact me using the contact form on this site. Unfortunately, since moving hosts it’s not been working. I think I know why (I need to check if my host has PHP mail() installed) but until then, you can use the email address given above.


On my last day of work before my holiday a calamity occurred. I dropped and broke my mug! This week I’ve been using the bone china, company branded, mugs but they are too small in both handle size and coffee holding ability, so the hunt for a new mug has begun.

As I’m sure you’ll all know by now, I’m a right fussy bugger, so I need a mug with a decent sized handle, and a nice design. My last one was a good size, and a solid dark blue colour with white interior. I’m thinking of going for stripes this time, but have to admit that I’ve yet to find a mug (online) that really catches my eye.

Anyone else tried shopping for mugs online? Any pointers?

And no, I don’t want one of those insulated ones, can’t stand them as … and remember, I’m fussy … the lip of the mug is usually way too thick to be comfortable. Yeah, I know, I know. I’m a freak.


Right, I’m off to price a wireless card for my PC, a DVI to HDMI converter, and a tub of Vaseline. The latter is required after wearing a slightly coarse top under my running jacket on Wednesday night; 45 minutes of friction is sore on the nipples!


Just got my first “phishing” email which alleges to have come from PayPal. It doesn’t.

The subject line reads: Your account will be suspended!

It reads:

Dear Paypal User,
In accordance with our major database relocation, we are currently having major adjustments and updates of user accounts to verify that the informations you have provided with us during the sign-up process are true and correct. However, we have noticed some discrepancies regarding your account at Paypal. Possible causes are inaccurate contact information and invalid logout process.

We require you to complete an account verification procedure as part of our security measure.

It then asks you to click a link which, I can assure you, has nothing to do with Paypal. I’ve let them know about it, but I’d advise you to be careful if you receive something similar.

Top tip: If you use Thunderbird as your email client, the REAL email address is displayed, in this case whilst it looks like it’s coming from service AT paypal DOT com, it’s really coming from service AT mythtv DOT lan. Alternatively, switch your email client to use a plain text view as most of these “phishing” emails come in HTML format. You’ll soon see the real details hidden away behind the “click this link now!” text.

bookmark_borderReferrer Spam

Well it looks like the buggers are at it again. Anyone else getting huge numbers of referrer links from the likes of:

  • potassium-rich-foods DOT ipupdater DOT com
  • topamax-side-effects DOT ipupdater DOT com
  • ambien-side-effects DOT ipupdater DOT us

And will someone PLEASE tell me what they are trying to achieve with this? Is someone actually paying people to do this?? Don’t we understand the internet yet people!!

bookmark_borderRound and Round

I understand spammers, they blast out millions of emails in the hope of catching a few gullible fools. Simple enough, even if I would like to string a few of the buggers up, smear them in jam and crack open a wasps nest.

Referrer spam isn’t new but appears to be on the rise, well it is here at any rate, latest counts tell me I’m getting around 30 referrer spam entries a day. It does seem to have started suddenly as well, one week nothing, the next I’m getting some weird and wonderful referrer links showing up in my logs. I’m trying to think if I’ve registered anywhere in the past couple of weeks but can’t recall doing so – other than for BackPack but they’ve had my details for ages.

I won’t provide any specific links but there are two current culprits with URLs that end in “f r e e b o x DOT r u” and “o x s o DOT n e t”. The latter doesn’t actually load anything, the other loads one huge page of classic literature (the source depends on what goes at the start of the URL). Most odd.

Anyone else noticing this, or is it just me?


Can anyone confirm that Green Fairy has been hacked? (no links, you know, just in case)

If so, has she been hacked by someone using a Blackberry device? The text on her site reads blackberry DOT netweaver DOT net, very odd.

UPDATE: She’s back. Panic over.