Days: it’s a blog thing

Since August, 2001. Surely it can’t last…

Friday, September 28, 2001 ↓


After all the horror, it's time for some light relief — and as usual, The Onion does not disappoint: Hijackers surprised to find selves in Hell.

Posted at 3:57 PM

Thursday, September 27, 2001 ↓


So anyway, I went to see The New Client (closely related to The Other New Client) to do the archetypal five minute job. While their new network is being installed, I offered to set up one of their laptop machines with an internet connection so that they can actually see the site I'm building for them as it progresses.

It went something like this:

  • Check laptop connected to mains power and modem connected to telephone socket. All fine so far.
  • Attempt to switch on laptop. Only one apparent button. Push the button. Zip. Nada. Rien. Squeeze the button. Slide the button. Pull the button. Push the button and hold it for a very long time. Zip. Blank screen, blank expressions all round. Push, pull, prod, poke the button, and yikes! The screen lights up. Don't know what I did, but who cares...
  • Set up a dial-up networking connection to ISP. OK so far. Test connection. Works. Good.
  • Fire up Internet Explorer. Blech! Version 4.0. Which will be precisely no good, since I'm going to be designing in accordance with current web standards. Ah, but clever me, I'd brought a CD-ROM with a new version of IE.
  • Press button to open CD-ROM drive. Drawer stays resignedly shut. Push button again. Pull button. Poke button. Prod button. Try manually wrenching the drawer open. "It usually opens by accident whenever your hand brushes past it," says client, helpfully...
  • Decide there's a power problem. On looking at the (removable) drive, it doesn't seem to be locked in very securely. Switch off laptop, untangle wires, turn upside down, and with the aid of a third hand, remove CD-ROM drive. Slide back in and CLICK! Lock into place.
  • Push power button on laptop. Zip. Push, pull, prod, poke... yeah yeah, you remember all that stuff. Went through it all again. Laptop eventually springs into life.
  • Push button on CD-ROM drive, and yay! Drawer opens. Place disk in drive, and close drawer.
  • Drive does not spin. Drive does nothing. Try accessing drive with Explorer. Windows tells me drive is "not ready".
  • Press button on drive. Drawer stays resignedly shut. Push button again. Pull button. Poke button. Prod button. Try manually wrenching the drawer open.
  • Switch off laptop (oh, no!), untangle wires, turn upside down, and this time without the aid of a third hand (practice makes perfect), remove CD-ROM drive. Slide back in and lock into place.
  • Switch on laptop — got it almost first time! Press button on CD-ROM drive. Drawer does not open. Drawer is looking at me, saying, "Come and have a go, if you think you're hard enough!" Try accessing drive with Explorer. Drive is still "not ready".
  • Reach conclusion that, technically speaking, the drive is fucked. And my CD is inside it. Possibly forever.
  • Nothing else for it; fire up IE, hit the Micro$oft site, and start downloading a new IE. Which will take more than an hour over this 33.6 connection. I got a parking ticket outside the client's offices last week. I'm not getting another one so soon. I want to make some profit our of this job.
  • Give client instructions on what to do when download is complete. Leave premises one hour fifteen minutes after arriving...

Later, I got an e-mail from the client saying that the download and installation were OK, and he could now see the development site as he should. Whoopy-ding.

Posted at 11:14 PM


As a bit of a (self-confessed) railway "anorak" I couldn't let today go by without pointing out that it was on September 27, 1825, that the Stockton and Darlington Railway was officially opened — and with it, George Stephenson's engine Locomotion No. 1 became the first steam locomotive to pull passengers on a public railway.

And while we're on the subject of transportation engineering, it was on this day in 1938 that the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth, then the largest passenger liner ever built, was launched at the John Brown shipyard at Clydebank. "Clyde Built," as they say. Or used to.

Posted at 10:37 PM

Tuesday, September 25, 2001 ↓


This day in 1956 (a vintage year — the year of my birth!) saw the inauguration of TAT 1, the first transatlantic telephone cable, running from Oban here in Scotland to Clarenville in Newfoundland.

Posted at 1:09 PM


KABUL (Voice of Sharia) -- Citing worldwide reaction to last week's terrorist attacks, multi-national terror network Al Qaeda announced Thursday that it would lay off 5,000 or more holy warriors. More...

Posted at 1:03 PM

Monday, September 24, 2001 ↓


I'm pleased to see that Elise Tomek has revised her decision to "suspend operations" on the Web, and has come back with a new site, Silly Cow.

Courtesy of Elise comes this link to a Washington Times story about what must rank as one of the most unusual announcements ever to be made on an aircraft by its pilot, clearly a man blessed with the capacity both to understand the concerns of his passengers and to provide them with reassurance — as well as good, practical advice. Maybe it should be included in the safety demonstration given by the cabin crew on every flight, and included on the cards in the seat pockets that nobody ever reads.

Posted at 11:12 AM

Sunday, September 23, 2001 ↓


Amongst all the rising argument over whether America "got what it deserved", the voice of common sense is raised by Bryan Appleyard writing in The Sunday Times: Why do they hate America?

Some flavour of the difficulties that might be faced by any force sent into Afghanistan to root out bin Laden and his cronies is given by Tom Carew, a former SAS soldier, also writing in the Sunday Times: My life with the mujaheddin

As the days since September 11 go by, more is learned of the people responsible for the atrocity, their backgrounds, and motivations — and the impact on the Muslim community:

The roots of hatred
Found manual provides lessons for Muslim terrorists
Who did it? Foreign Report presents an alternative view
Terrorists’ trade in stolen identities
A Fanatic's Quiet Path to Terror
Sweeps Find Box-Cutters on Two More Airliners
To Be Muslim and American in L.A.

And a reminder of what Arab states themselves have done to deal with extreme Islamicism: Hama Rules

Posted at 3:13 PM

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