2008 — 10 May: Saturday

In earlier, more innocent, times I was once (in about 1962) greatly amused by the turn of phrase in a piece of fanmail written to the editor of one of the "family" of Superman comics.1 It began "Verily, thou hast goofed!" The same applies to one or more of the Microsoft gang of XP programmers. Turns out that the problem I've been enjoying was caused by the recent repair I had to carry out on my XP Pro system. As "explained" here (and notice they do admit their mistake) the latest version of Windows Update includes a file (Wups2.dll) that wasn't available in the initial release. So, while the file remained on my repaired system, after the "repair" its registry2 entries were AWOL.

The cure is to stop the automatic update service, register the file, and restart the service. Then simply repeat the "normal" Windows Update process. All now seems to be sweetness and SP3 light on the system. Anybody want a copy of the SP3 ISO file3 on CD?

XPPro SP3 take 2

Notice, however, that the fiendishly clever XP programmers did not stop every update from being successfully installed. A cunning ploy to obfuscate the situation further, no doubt.

It's now 02:03 and bed once again beckons, after a lovely meal and a superb DVD (I missed the first half when it was shown on BBC4 recently, which is why I'd ordered my own copy). I must say The Who is a band that has been through those "interesting times" I last mentioned ten months ago. By the way, if you rang me at 19:30 it would really help if you left your name next time — I've been trying for years to train dear Mama to use our ansaphone; I bet it was her.

Breaking glass, and other news

Remember that track "I love the sound of breaking glass"? It's obviously inspired our local council's glass collection folk. (I don't understand quite why they're happy to jumble all the colours together, by the way, given the separate collection slots at our bottle banks.) Well, at least I'm now wide awake. And therefore in time to tune into all that wonderful old Sixties music from Brian Matthew. On their site today (as I was checking the BBC HD programme schedule) I found this turgid lump of "bright idea" doubtless from a meedjah studies graduate already earning far more than my pensioner's mite:

How to get BBC HD

And they say a picture is worth a thousand words... Still, at least they're trying.

Meanwhile Mr Murdoch's largest-selling Australian daily "news" paper provides me with yet another example of nominative determinism.

Fact: The data is "insufficiently reliable to detect trends on the frequency of extreme cyclones", says a recent paper in Science by world authority Chris Landsea.

Andrew Bolt in The Herald Sun

You have to admire the precision of that Science citation. Less admirable are the robust opinions on raw display here. And while I'm on a weird news kick, smoke this! The world is a strange place. This, though, is truly scary:

The time pressure to make momentous decisions is the key problem. After the three minutes are up, if the warnings are assessed as "serious," there follows a quick conference between the president and his nuclear advisers "whereupon, on the U.S. side, the commanding duty officer at Strategic Command headquarters in Omaha, Neb., would brief the U.S. president on the nature of the apparent attack, the wide array of response options and their anticipated consequences [human casualties and physical damage]." Blair4 noted that "the time allocated for this briefing is as little as 30 seconds," and that afterward the president's "decision window is typically twelve minutes, although under certain conditions it can be much shorter."

Ron Rosenbaum in Slate

Can you picture the quality of Presidential decision taken in just a few minutes under such appalling pressure? One remembers the expression on Dubya's face for several minutes after he'd been given news of the WTC attacks while he was visiting a school.

Goodness me! A picket, over pay, in IBM's Second Life space? How wonderful, erm, no, I mean how shocking. Time for some breakfast.

Suddenly, it's summer...

The BBC news has cheerfully suggested that birch pollen is the current culprit. Meanwhile Junior has just (12:50 or so) called to tell me of his holiday plans, and the fact that he'll be doing some of his freelance web designing out in the park this weekend. He has obviously not inherited my hay-feverish tendencies, thank goodness. I shall just keep the curtains drawn and grizzle grumpily (as I do every year in this "climate"). Now here's a summary that made me smile though I cannot tell whether these are Mr Marsh's own words or whether he, in turn, has lifted them from the book he's reviewing by Adrian Monck:

Even if it wanted it — and it doesn't — the BBC can't choose to make its way in the world by mimicking the exhausting diurnal anger of the Mail ('woe that the 1950s are gone') or the hand-wringing of the Guardian/Independent ('woe that global warming/capitalism is taking us to hell in an organic hand-basket').

Kevin Marsh on the BBC editors blog

I just have time (as the chicken cooks, and before I start heating the jacket potato with cheese) to point to a Neil Postman talk (new to me) that he gave back (I deduce) in President Clinton's time to some Eminences and Excellencies on the topic of communicating the Faith in the New Millennium, bless him. I liked his second conclusion (of five, basically) that "the advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population" and (further, specifically in the context of the computer revolution) "The winners, which include among others computer companies, multi-national corporations and the nation state, will, of course, encourage the losers to be enthusiastic about computer technology. That is the way of winners..." Here's the full text.

Right! Time (13:56) to go and play chicken with some salmonella. While listening to Moby, of all people, revealing wit in the best senses of the word. Given my recent frustration with Microsoft, I shall unkindly offer this link to a Cringely column. An oldie but still a germane goodie.

Guy Kawasaki obviously had fun at the Maker Faire last week. I particularly liked the powertool drag racer he photographed:

Maker Faire

I gather he's also behind "Truemors", as well as that "Alltop" site I mentioned here (in the context of my continual efforts to keep up with such awesome trends as baby bottom butter).

I love it when...

Thomas Boldt cartoon

... I find a new cartoonist. This is the work of Thomas Boldt, of the Calgary Sun (though I didn't find it there). Here's an archive.

Hah! Iris, I fired up the Dyson for a quick session of corralling what Boopsie (in Doonesbury) describes as the "dust bunnies" and suddenly it's getting on for 18:00 and nearly time to contemplate yet more food. (I've also been tidying up Christa's study and a few bits'n'pieces.) I must also stop using Junior's room as buffer space (though both Christa and I tended to do so).

In mid-crockpot, Mike advised me that tomorrow's walk will be Hawkley Hangars, if that means anything to my reader. So quite a busy day coming up: need to prepare a packed lunch, and also to be ready for a one-off performance by Jo Brand tomorrow evening over in Winchester. I've just finished listening to the penultimate episode of A Dance to the Music of Time. The news from Burma is infinitely depressing. It's warm, still, but pitch-black outside. I think I shall have an early night for a change. After all, I've scoured the Humax newsgroups for anything interesting. Time to catch up on the fascinating Keene catalogue! And do the dishes. And (h)eat the damson flapjack before it's too far past its use by date. And cut the bad bit out of tomorrow's Braeburn. And refill the water filter jug. And get more bread out of the freezer. And empty the bin from the kitchen to discourage ant-ish incursions. And put the laundry away. And lock up downstairs. And switch lights off. Etc bloody etc!

It's 23:54 and, it seems, tomorrow's Sunday Times is printing Mr Prescott's story? memoirs? diaries? wherein he reveals that Tony Blair is/was scared of Gordon Brown. These people run our country — can you believe that? And we let them... More fools us. Meanwhile, I note that Microsoft doesn't like being told to pay a large fine for "non-compliance with earlier anti-trust rulings and for charging excessive royalty fees for rivals seeking inter-operability information for its systems with the dominant Windows operating system" — tough!

Aah, inter-operability. I used to know what that meant once! And care. G'night.



1  Come on! I never claimed this diary was any form of intellectual stretch. But then neither was Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen.
2  I remind you of the opinion of the Windows Registry expressed here by John Walker.
3  Without instructions of any kind, as far as I could see. Recall, on a clear disk you can seek forever, which is about as far as some of the Microsoft Knowledgebase links will take you.
4  No, not Tony! Bruce Blair: "the former minuteman missile crewman and Brookings nuclear systems savant who published a study called "Strategic Command and Control" in the mid-'80s. Its analysis of the flaws in our systems attracted the attention of both the Russians, who would later consult with him in the post-Soviet era, and the U.S. Congress, which got him highly classified access to U.S. warning and launch systems to delve further into the flaws. His Congressional Record testimony is the closest unclassified look at the workings of the nuclear attack launch and warning systems we have. It reveals how poorly and patchily thought-out these systems were. According to Blair, the systems in place now have not been much improved." Let's hope they're not running under XP at least.