2013 — 6 July: Saturday

Woe is me!1 For the third month in a row my unmitigated Uncle ERNIE has had the gall to spurn me. Perhaps he has a little something lined up for the Xmas spasm? Like Billy Bunter, I shall just have to live in continued hope of the promised Postal Order. And make do with my IBM pension. I expect I'll survive. Meanwhile, how happy I am to hear that a certain financial 'vampire squid' has risen in 'value' by nearly 2% this week... I can't take NPR's Market Place seriously. The current discussion is the book "The Billionaire and the Mechanic" describing Larry Ellison's hi-tech assault on the America's Cup.

The (un)poor chap's hobbies are, it seems, "a constant search for alternative stress". Perhaps he should try installing his company's products? I can confidently now recommend VirtualBox :-)

Now who would...

... ever believe that automatic renewal of (for example) house insurance policies would only ever send the premium price in a possibly unfair upward direction? How (un)shocking. And BTW why's it called a premium? I thought that meant a prize. It's a little ironic that the Financial Times' story on a "probe" by the FCA is hiding behind a paywall.

Still, when the basic operating principle relies on plentiful FUD... And the little charmers don't even pay out on so-called Acts of God, which has always puzzled me. Good job she's not a vengeful entity. Well, apart from her clearly sadistic sense of humour. Lack of fairness. Propensity to ignore prayers. Willingness to sanctify former popes of dubious merit. Invention of phlegm. Recall Yossarian's conversation with Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife in the sublime Catch-22.

"Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological2 mind of His when he robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?"

Date: 1961

Still, she has a sense of humour. You (I) have to smile at the thought of "bat-bamboozling bollock-blaster boffinry", surely? (Link.)

I (think I) know...

... what he means, but certainly not from reading just this pull quote!


Obfuscation is an unpretty thing, methinks. I preferred to read:

The barman says: "We don't serve faster-than-light particles here."
A tachyon enters a bar.

Plenty more where that came from.


I crashed VirtualBox and had to hang around while it insisted on telling its Seattle chums all about the unpleasant details. Payback ahead of time, perhaps, for all the nasty patches heading our way this coming Tuesday? Anyway, even though the next invocation was without any bother I rather suspect it will now soon be out of my system, in both senses. After all, all I really wanted to do was check out the new Linux Mint with a minimum of upheaval.3 That said, having the Linux version of my preferred Firefox web browser running in a virtual space invisible to Windows certainly makes for more secure web surfing in today's malware-riddled climate. Is that sufficient reason?

I did take a look at the Open Source Xara Xtreme, but the code hasn't been touched since 2008 whereas my current Windows version continues to go from strength to strength. In fact, I've now browsed through a great many of the programs instantly available for installation, but the only one I've installed is FileZilla. And the likelihood of my actually using it to access either of my web servers "for real" is not high. Because a thing can be done is not quite sufficient reason to do a thing :-)

So I asked a chum for his recommendations and reasoning:

As for a must-have app, this is difficult to recommend to a man
who uses his computer for email, browsing and looking at fonts.
If you were into video (taking, not watching films) I would
recommend Kdenlive which appears to do just about everything a
home enthusiast would want without the exorbitant cost of the
commercial video editors.
Or the Gimp as an alternative to photoshop.
Or Darktable as an alternative to Lightroom, but then you are
not really a photographer.

Who doesn't look at fonts? Granted, not everyone notices them. Oh well, as he (also) said: time for brunch.

Oops! (2)

Had I not seen this with my own eyes with, alas,...


... no installed icons to be selected I might have assumed Wilbur had failed to get on board. Indeed, had I not found him stuck on my fancy 'Start' screen (which I dismiss immediately after each re-boot — which usually means while I'm not yet fully booted by my morning cuppa) this was in some peril of becoming the new record-breaker for shortest resident software of 265MB yet installed on BlackBeast. A dubious distinction.

So I fired it up, and waded through the various subfunctions until I found the new one I knew I had been added since I last wrestled with this almost uniquely unfriendly bit of code:

Windows > Single-window mode

A quick way to stop the left-hand (Toolbox - Tool Options) and the right-hand (Layers - Brushes) windows being displayed a ludicrous three feet apart on my Dell screens. (A pain in the ever turning neck that would have been far worse than watching Wimbledon.)

I'm currently dividing...

... what passes for my attention between the last two episodes of "Late Junction" courtesy of iPlayer, and the new book by Taleb I picked up on Thursday. I expect there will be further tea at some point. It's 21:10 and has been a very pleasant day apart from the five sneezes in about 15 seconds provoked by something drifting in from the back jungle.



1  Not really.
2  I now (finally) remember the reason for that mysterious diary entry for 25 January 1968 that I mentioned here. It may take me a while, but I get there in the end. That was when I first read (Big Bro's copy of) Catch-22. And thus first met that adjective. A mere 45+ years ago.
3  Much as the only real motivation behind my recent (and, eventually, successful) attempts to drive the Kuro plasma screen from BlackBeast without undue interference from the two Dells was the simple fact that I knew damn' well it ought to be possible — not that I had any great need to do so.