2013 — 6 January: Sunday

Continuing (for no particular reason save my own amusement as I enjoy both a cuppa and the first live show from Cerys this year) my recent trend towards algebraic enumeration and identification of my friends,1 F5 (who lives in New Zealand) and F6 (who lives near Alton) both used to work for ICL (before each going on to extract the odd few shekels [in both cases, rather more than me, I suspect] from IBM), and both have brains approximately the size of a planet.2

So what? Well, both coincidentally emailed me overnight. In F6's case, satirically suggesting (not for the first time) that I should "read up PHP and Drupal and take over from me completing the new Outsiders club online membership function". Well, Ian, that sounds far too much like work to me. Meanwhile F5 (another Ian) cc-ed F7 (who lives just a couple of miles away, and labours under a similar cranial handicap) sending us both a link to the latest NASA imagery of our night-time planet. I've now clipped just NZ from the 2.6MB full-size image because F5 claimed to be unable to see it:

NZ at night

For several years, I kept (rather expensive) posters of similar night-time and day-time, cloud-free, planetary images on the dining room walls as part of the "educate Peter" process that Christa and I tried to carry out as subtly as we could.

Breakfast, anyone?

When you come...

... to the end of a lollipop, all you have left is the stick, I believe. When you come to the end — simultaneously — of your boxes of Sultana Bran and Oatibix Bites, the dregs are such fine powder that they need twice the normal dose of cow juice to avoid becoming cold, thick, porridge. And when you come to the end of this book review, you (I) feel as if I've just been patronised rather than informed. Snippet:

If you are presently staring at an open browser on a computer monitor, you are very likely reading these words in Verdana — a font designed for Microsoft in 1994. Note the squared, not rounded, dot above this i. Be aware that this a is double-story (sheltered beneath that little left-pointing awning) and not single-story (a simple circle with a vertical stroke adjacent to its right edge). Consider whether this monocular g (with that left-pointing swoop beneath its main loop) would look better if it were instead binocular (with a second, smaller loop linking down below).

Seth Stevenson, reviewing Stephen Coles in Slate

As I remarked the other day (well, last September, but who's counting?) just because I forked out several hundred quid for some decent typefaces, and I happen to be able to recognise a few of the things, and I have about 30 books (32, in fact, but who's counting?) on typography and book design and regard Eric Gill as a genius, and I can spot a missing pixel in a lower case letter "e" in 12-point Caslon — I have the snailmail from the typographer (after he'd first used a microscope) to prove that somewhere — and once spent far too long laboriously converting data70 (the font used in the film "2001" [but you surely already knew that?]) from an ancient sheet of Letraset (does anyone still use that these days?) into Acorn RISC OS font format, and I both enjoyed and recommend Gary Hustwit's enthralling documentary film "Helvetica" doesn't make me a font nerd.

Does it?

Is it me, or...

... is it getting really cold hereabouts?

Below zero Kelvin

There's an easier-on-the-brain 'translation' in El Reg here.

When I'm not...

... adhering to strictly Micawberian Principles of financial management (what the Dickens does he mean?) I go in for the odd bit of bartering. Thus, I have just returned from turning a couple of Freeview bits of PC kit into a lightweight strip of Ikean LED lights now stuck securely under the kitchen cabinet that straddles my preferred chopping block area to shed rather more light on my slicing and dicing and received a £20 note into the bargain. Thanks, F3 (this is getting tired — I shall stop now).

(Slightly late) lunch, anyone? It's apparently 13:59 already. Oops.

When that nice Mrs Toyota...

... rang, mid-afternoon, I naturally (but mistakenly) assumed she wanted to remind me to book an appointment to have the potentially faulty driver's door window switch dealt with under the latest of their vehicle recalls. Not so. The cheeky minx wanted to sell me a Yaris hybrid. On a Sunday. Pah! I fobbed her off by saying that plans for that were firmly on the back burner now that I've been contributing (quite heavily) to Peter's house-repair funds. True, but not quite the whole truth. Besides, there are (I hope) many miles still left in Christa's parting birthday gift to me, about which I feel remarkably sentimental. My first car, and all that...

Struck, by a random...

... passing thought. After removing the effect of the seven weeks or so of "pre-retirement" leave I had managed to accumulate by a combination of banked leave, surviving the rigours of IBM for 25 years, and giving the blighters 10 months or so notice of my desire to flee, today has been the first day of my seventh year of freedom from 'the Man'. Cool! And, with luck, a further mite of pension will trickle into my bank account within the next 30 minutes or so.

You know what this means, don't you? Yes... I can afford to eat and heat again :-)



1  Until it becomes either or both boring and embarrassing. It's not, for example, an infinite series.
2  Though, exactly which planet would make an entertaining discussion for another time. Besides, as Kai Lung would probably have put it, "to attempt to discriminate among them is both foolish and discourteous".