Sunday, April 22, 2012

London 2012 - A True Test of Endurance

Only 111 days to go until it's all over!

And just think - when it's over you may never have to suffer another British Olympics in your lifetime!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'Sports Nuts' Was the Clincher

Here's my new favourite picture I found on the Internet:

At a push I reckon I could get behind at least 70% of that.

From Coed Magazine.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Radio Dread

Apparently, the BBC are thinking about junking 6 Music, along with a number of other 'underperforming' digital radio stations.

The demise of 6 Music would put quite a significant hole in my radio listening life, and the prospect of the almost reverse Sophie's Choice-type scenario of auditioning the likes of Radios 1, 2 or Absolute as a permanent replacement fills me with dread.

I love 6 Music. It's sort of like what Radio 1 would be like if they ritually killed their playlist staff and put some kind of special detectors on the doors that kept out wankers. Clearly George Lamb found an open window somewhere.

All of this hooplah is based on no more than the simple fact that people apparently aren't really listening to digital radio, but the thing is... I think that they actually are, and in greater numbers than the current system of measuring would suggest.

You see, it's possible that the BBC has actually done its job of surfing the bleeding edge of new technology a bit too well, to the point where it has almost singlehandedly changed the way in which people consume radio and television.

I listen to a near ballbag-bursting amount of radio, but virtually every single second of it is via some kind of podcast or timeshifting service. iPlayer content and edited podcasts of shows are seemingly not registered under the ancient RAJAR system of compiling listening figures, which I believe still involves some kind of pen and notebook scenario, and possibly a special hat.

Consequently, were I charged with keeping track of my listening habits, none of it would count, so it would seem like I wasn't listening to any BBC radio at all. My TV viewing would likewise seem to be all but non-existent if catching up on shows via my computer was not counted. Factor in online-sourced watching/listening however, and the true picture of my virtual housebound status is revealed.

So what I'm saying to the BBC is - because I know you're reading this - before doing something you may regret, perhaps at least try to take into account the many and varied ways in which people might consume your digital output other than via listening live, because where I live in particular, getting a decent DAB signal is less likely than getting your watch back after giving it to a tramp to hold.

Therefore, even though I consider social networking and the like to be the work of the Devil, someone has set up a group supporting 6 Music, so therefore I would urge you - just this once - to brave the inevitable emo haircuts and general wankery of Facebook and join it. The link is over there --->

Also, for the truly adventurous, you may wish to start popularising the #Save6Music hash tag on the inexplicably popular Twitter. It didn't change Iran, but I'll think you'll agree that this is much more important.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Credit Crunch Hits Rappers Hard

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lily Allen Update

There's been a lot of confusion lately about where British cultural icon Lily Allen stands on 'stuff', so here's a brief rundown on what she currently considers alright and 'not alright':


  • Drugs

    That's dealing them as well as taking them.

  • Cricket

    It's the new getting drunk and swearing at Elton John, apparently.

  • Peter Mandelson

    "He's actually not such a total cunt when you get to know him," she probably never said.

Not Alright

Thanks Lily Allen!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2 Down, 6,395,804 to Go

Further to my efforts to make this blog of at least some use to society, I thought I'd share the resolutions to a couple of problems I'd been grappling with after what seems like several lifetimes-worth of Googling/screen-punching frustration.

I'm talking about the kinds of problems that linger for so long you come to a point where you almost accept that you're just going to have to live with them, such is the apparent paucity of information or even recognition of the issue in the wider tech world.

The Not-So-Random CPU Spikes

Firstly, it was our old friend, random CPU spikes. Previously, the problems I'd had in this area had eventually - reluctantly - caused me to do a clean install in order to sort the swines - there really didn't seem to be any obvious cause or solution in that instance.

Best I could figure, it was some remnant from a virus that hadn't entirely been dealt with previously.

Those CPU spikes genuinely were random though - you'd never know when they were going to hit, making for watching any video file a haphazard experience at best.

The more recent issue though seemed much more regimented, and - whilst still hugely irritating - much less frequent. They would always occur at least once when watching anything, which, while less of an issue than what I'd experienced before, still had the effect of taking you out of the story or whatever, particularly when you knew it was going to occur at some point.

Process Explorer indicated that these spikes were caused by some aspect of explorer.exe or simply 'System', which was little help as there are any number of sub-processes under those umbrellas.

Eventually - without actually timing it - I worked out that they seemed to occur about once every half hour, but I still couldn't find any cause for it. If I had timed it, I would have discovered that they occurred exactly every half-hour, on the hour and half-hour - because it was my ruddy background wallpaper changing over that was doing it.

The only reason I know this, is because I happened to have Process Explorer open (and not maximized) at the exact moment the picture changed. If not for that particular combination of events, I'd probably still be putting up with it now, like some Tourette's suffer that's resigned to the fact that at some point he will shout, "Bollocks," in the supermarket.

You see, I'm using Windows 7, and I'd gotten sick of looking at that stupid fish on my desktop, so I decided I wanted a change. For some reason, I decided I'd quite like a dynamic wallpaper, i.e. a background that changes periodically. I didn't even know if such things existed, and a cursory web search suggested that they weren't too prevalent. Out of interest, I decided to see what Win 7 has in terms of alternatives, and what do you know? It only has some dynamic wallpapers pre-loaded.

I went for the views of Britain selection, being a patriotic sort... (not really, in fact the images were a bit too chocolate box-y for my liking to be honest), and every half-hour I was treated to another view from this fair isle.

If I'd known that each one would be accompanied by a ludicrous power draining changeover, they could keep it. In fact, as soon as I realised what was going on, that fish was immediately back swimming behind my desktop icons.

Anyway, that's the long and rather dull story of how I sorted some CPU spikes. Perhaps you've been tearing your hair out wondering what the chuff might be causing your computer-based viewing to be so rudely interrupted approximately twice an hour, every hour. Well, perhaps this post may have just enlightened you.

I don't know if any other dynamic backgrounds cause this, but I suspect they probably would, although I'm not really sure why it would provoke such a system fit just to change a flipping picture.

Giving Windows Search Index the Finger

My most recent success involves the curious case of the search index that wouldn't rebuild.

For reasons I can't even remember properly, having started this so long ago, I decided to rebuild the search index on my computer. I think I actually changed some of the indexing options, which caused it to rebuild the entire thing from scratch.

I'd heard it could take a while, but I was prepared to wait. I didn't quite expect to still be waiting for it to finish about two months later.

Initially it seemed fine, but whenever it got to a certain number of files indexed, approximately 16,000, my whole system seemed to seize up. On an on it went, chugging away, monopolizing my computer's poor CPU, managing to index about 1 file every hour - if it moved at all. Eventually I just turned it off altogether, because the constant whirring of my CPU fan threatened to drive me insane.

I occasionally let it work overnight to see if would get anywhere. It never did. SearchFilterHost.exe and its hogging of CPU cycles became a regular fixture in Task Manager.

After looking around the Web, I noticed some people with a similar issue found that if they uninstalled certain audio/video decoders, that seemed to do the trick. Indeed, Process Explorer seemed to indicate that these kind of files were in use when the indexing process ground to a halt, even when no media was being played.

I immediately uninstalled the K-Lite Codec Pack, and a conversion program called SUPER and restarted my computer. And guess what? Yes, it exploded. Not really, it of course started indexing normally (and, mercifully, silently) as it should.

So the upshot? Windows Search Indexing chokes on splitter files, in other words anything with an .ax extension. If you have any of these on your system, get rid of them, at least temporarily, if you want your indexing to go smoothly. Just prepare for a certain amount of chokage when you eventually put them back on.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Why Did You Get That Hat?

Not being a member of the indolent rich (much to my chagrin), I've never been overly interested in the various society engagements that seem to engender an unwarranted amount of coverage in the media, with the annual hat expo that is Ladies' Day at Ascot being a prime example.

This year however, the sheer levels of attention-seeking from attendees would appear to have reached epic proportions. Not content with simply wearing a hat at least four sizes too large in order to try and get themselves a couple of seconds on telly, or photographed for one of those quirky junk pieces in one of the more class obsessed tabloids, 2009 will surely mark the point at which Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot officially became some kind of Rag Week for posh people.

Check out some more pictures here:

As an addendum, just in case at some point in the future that link stops working or they've changed it since, it's worth noting that at the time of writing the Daily Express's tagline is 'The World's Greatest Newspaper'.

A bold claim, but I should point out that I recently visited a page from Fox News which bore the strapline 'Fair and Balanced', which only goes to prove that there's clearly no legislation when it comes to slogans.