Days: it’s a blog thing

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

Saturday, December 22, 2001 ↓


“Online frustration lurks at every click,” and many examples are being showcased by 37 signals at Design Not Found. Go ahead and submit your own bad (or good) online experiences.

One of my favourites, because it’s just so Oirish, comes courtesy of Aer Lingus.

I’ve travelled many times by Aer Lingus on the same Edinburgh to Dublin route, but I haven’t used their web site to book. Perhaps it’s just as well.

Posted at 2:32 PM


Following yesterday’s dramatic Royal Navy interception of a ship on the way to London (prompted by “credible reports” received by the intelligence services that there may be “terrorist materials” on board, along with the cargo of sugar), the search so far has revealed nothing untoward.

Still, better safe than sorry. Blowing up a ship taking sugar to Silvertown would be no more expected than flying a couple of airliners into the World Trade Centre.

Posted at 2:15 PM


On this day in 1882, one of Thomas Alva Edison’s employees, Edward Johnson, created the first electric Christmas tree lights. This new application of Edison’s electric light bulb is often wrongly attributed to the great man himself, but it was actually Johnson who wrapped some bulbs in red, white and blue crepe paper and threw them around the old Tannenbaum.

Posted at 2:02 PM

Friday, December 21, 2001 ↓


Last night I watched some cooking on TV.

Now, I’ll be the first to say there are just too many cookery programmes on television these days. The celebrity chef list is endless, all trying to be original in some desperate way: Gary Rhodes and his spiky hair (it’s not new any more, Gary); Jamie Oliver and his cheeky, Essex-lad-married-to-posh-bird persona (it’s not new any more, Jamie); and so on. But I simply can’t resist Nigella Lawson.

There’s something about the way she concentrates on producing deeply satisfying food — and revels in her own satisfaction with it — that’s very appealing. And she doesn’t waste much effort on presentation, because she doesn’t need to make bland food look better than it tastes. She’s also the only TV cook who is even more delicious than the dishes she prepares.

{Thinking out loud: I don’t go along much with the concept of one “ideal” partner. I think we’re capable of finding similar degrees of love, joy, comfort and satisfaction in many people who are all quite different. Maybe we each have many “ideals”. If that’s so, then for me, with her literary and culinary talents, charm, wit, zest and looks, Nigella is as close as they come to an ideal. Oops — must stop thinking out loud. Who knows what deep secrets/lusts/perversions/crimes I’ll give away next.}

In last night’s Christmas special I was drooling over her insalata di rinforzo and lentil and chestnut soup.

To see why I like her so much, you might look at:
• Nigella’s books at
• Nigella’s books at
• Nigella’s Observer columns
Nigella Lawson: A sweet and sour life from the BBC.

Posted at 5:20 PM


“This is the most secure version of Windows we have ever released,” says Scott Culp, manager of Microsoft’s security response centre.

Oh yeah?

Culp added that complex software “will always fall short of perfection.” Especially if it comes in a box labelled Microsoft, it seems.

Posted at 12:27 PM

PAN AM 103

The events of September 11 this year have overshadowed previous terrorist acts, but I haven’t forgotten that it was 13 years ago today when I was sitting watching TV with some friends when the programme was interrupted by a news bulletin. Pan Am flight 103, flying from Frankfurt to New York via London, exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. All 259 passengers and crew were killed, as were 11 residents of Lockerbie.

It was more than ten years before two Libyans were brought to trial for the bombing. One, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, was found guilty of the crime but has recently been granted formal leave to appeal his conviction. The pain drags on for the families of the victims.

Posted at 11:45 AM


Over the couple of days that I was zipping to Sweden and back, I was highly amused by the accounts of a certain ambassador’s description of another country, particularly those in Matthew Norman’s Diary in The Guardian. His analysis of what the ambassador might have meant fairly made me chuckle.

It’s also nice to see that The Grauniad’s renowned talent for typographical errors (and just plain errors) is undiminished. Quai D’Orsee? Perhaps they mean Quai d'Orsay. (The same error was in both the printed and online versions, where it persists.)

Posted at 3:19 AM

Monday, December 17, 2001 ↓


The Portuguese Prime Minister resigns. Was it something I said?

Posted at 7:37 PM


I just heard on the evening news that after going missing for the second time in the last couple of years, Stuart Adamson of the Scottish band Big Country was found dead in an Hawaii hotel room yesterday.

Big Country was a big band in the 1980s (selling more than 10 million albums), and Adamson was renowned for the “bagpipe guitar” sound he created — which sounded much better than the description. I enjoyed a lot of their music, and I still have a couple of the albums.

As well as playing at Live Aid, Big Country performed pioneering concerts in Moscow and more recently, in Pristina.

Given Adamson’s troubles over the last few years and the lack of other reports, I guess we have to suspect suicide. He will be missed by many.

In a Big Country
Dreams stay with you…

Posted at 7:33 PM


Although the recent holiday was much needed, it’s just dawning on me how much closer it’s brought me to Christmas and New Year, and how much I have to get done in the next week or so. A sample goes something like this:


  • Clear up various tedious administrative tasks.
  • Pay numerous personal and domestic bills before the boys with the pick-axe handles get sent round.
  • Go to bank.
  • Mail document that was due on December 14 to client in USA.
  • Chase up resolution of domain name problem.


  • Travel to Sweden, which thanks to winter schedules and inconvenient flight connections, will take most of the day.


  • AM — Perform task in Gothenburg for client in USA.
  • PM — Travel back to Scotland. (Too bad I’ve already missed St. Lucia Day, again.)

By the end of this week:

  • Finish “first pass” of two new client web sites.
  • Buy, write and send all essential Christmas cards (same last-minute story every year).
  • Buy and wrap all Christmas presents for family and friends (same last-minute story every year).
  • Visit doctor to renew prescription.
  • Change left-over Escudos back to Sterling, before most of Europe goes euro-crazy on January 1, 2002.

By the end of this month:

  • Survive another Christmas Day in the bosom of my family.
  • Finalise and publish two new client web sites. (Hope springs eternal.)
  • Catch up on invoicing clients for work done but not yet billed. (Not a recommended business practice.)
  • Calculate and pay Vampire Added Tax to Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise (bless them).
  • Bring company accounts up to date so I can work out how much finally to pay myself for this year.

…and many other things, which I haven’t had the good sense to add to my “to do” list.

I smell failure…

Posted at 6:09 PM

Sunday, December 16, 2001 ↓


The screening of a new series of Attachments, BBC2’s already passé drama of life in an internet company, has made me look more thoroughly at the accompanying Seethru web site — and I have to say, it’s quite good fun.

There are some good rants, particularly Rhodri’s Puff Daddy - oxygen thief:

You are a jumped up arrogant fuckwit who likes throwing tantrums, flushing shitloads of cash down the pan, receiving standing ovations from your celebrity pals like Bobby Brown, Jamie Oliver and Destiny’s Child at self-congratulatory fashion wank-fests, before pushing half-baked and uninspiring raps in our direction.

I couldn’t have put it better myself. No, really.

And without the Seethru National Wanky Homepage Cull, I would never have known the wonder that is Les World.

Posted at 3:27 PM


At least, according to Seethru. I know, I know, it’s another one of those tests, and I promise to stop posting them — but since I’ve just turned another year older, I couldn’t resist this one. 40%? Could have been worse.

Other results of interest from the test:

65.94 % of people who think there is a God also drink herbal tea.

Why do I find that not in the least surprising?

26.89 % of people who turn down drugs have unprotected sex.

Which only goes to show that sex is more irresistible than drugs. No news there, then.

Posted at 2:10 PM


I truly love my country, but I’m given to moaning about its climate. Frequently. More so when I’ve just come back from somewhere warm and sunny, or when I’ve just received yet another e-mail from an old friend who now lives in Oz, reminding me yet again how good the weather is all year round in her corner of the world, and that they’ll probably be having a barbecue on the beach on Christmas Day. Watching the dolphins in the bay. Drinking cold beer. (Pass me a bucket, I’m going to be sick.)

A little note from Natalie reminded me that of course, lots of people live in colder places than Scotland — and I sympathise with all of them. (Greetings, Siberians. OK, and some Canadians too!)

Just pondering this recalled a memory. Isn’t it strange how you can go through so much of your life without ever knowing one or two key facts about your parents? It was only within the last year or so that my mother, just in passing conversation, happened to remark that my dad (who died back in 1989) had wanted them to emigrate to Australia when they first got married — but she didn’t want to go. Neither of them had ever mentioned this to me before.

My reaction on hearing this was to say (jokingly, but not entirely…), “You mean to tell me you chose to bring me into this bloody climate, when I could have been born in Australia?”

Posted at 1:39 PM


What Osama bin Laden and his mate were really saying on the “smoking gun” video.

Posted at 1:38 PM

Previous entries

Older material is stashed away under Replays.