27 April 2011

Appropriate disposal

This bin has long amused me. I mean, what else other than litter and
dog waste would one want to put in a bin? Children? Spent nuclear fuel
rods? February? You know, I was going to use it to store cheese, but
now I suppose I'd better go back to the boring old fridge.

25 April 2011

Partially resurrecting an elk

Many years ago, lost in the mists of time, in 1994 to be exact, I bought my first "own" PC: a 486 with 8 MB of RAM. I called it The Elk, because compared with the exceptionally feeble family 386SX I had been sharing up to that point it was A Powerful Beast with Horns. After a while I upgraded it with a faster chip, and then later it got a new motherboard with an AMD K6 and 32 MB of RAM, along with a second hard disk and a better monitor. By now it had been renamed Elk III.

Oh, the power.

You know what happened next. The Elk went the way of all silicon-based lifeforms: it got slow, it got unreliable, and it got replaced. Newer, faster PCs took its place, and it lived out the remainder of its days under my desk, initially as a dual-boot test machine (Windows 95 and NT 4), and then gradually as bit rot set in, the CMOS battery failed and so on, it ended up as a dual-non-boot doorstop.

Æons passed.

A couple of years ago, I was having a clearout. I gave what was left of The Elk to my mate Dave, to add to his growing collection of electronic memorabilia (or spare parts for his "messing about with microprocessors" hobby projects). Imagine my surprise and delight when I see this post on Dave's blog Yes I am a geek, but no I don't care, documenting his use of a certain motherboard with an AMD K6 and 32 MB of RAM... The Elk is alive, Igor!

21 April 2011

Encouraging geekdom in small people

A couple of days ago, while idly channel-surfing over breakfast, I stumbled across a kids' TV programme on BBC2 featuring a real adult male and a scruffily animated boy. [It turns out to be called Little Howard's Big Question.] They were having a conversation about unhealthy food in a greasy spoon–type establishment that was called, I think, "Bert's Caff" – except the signage and the menu spelt it with an acute accent over the second F. This gave me a disproportionate amount of pleasure.

The following day, I accidentally stumbled upon the same programme, only this time I came in in the middle of a discussion to disambiguate M.C. Escher ("with a C") and Esher railway station ("without a C"). This also cheered me considerably. These are important cultural references. Far too many kids grow up these days without even a basic awareness of Esher.

15 April 2011

Nominative determinism

Imagine if your name actually was T.F. Skiphire. You'd be constantly in demand from people wanting to hire skips. Which would be supremely irritating if, say, you were a vet or a High Court judge. "No, I don't have any skips you can hire... No, that's my name, it's pronounced 'Skiffire'... I can do you a special offer on neuterings though."

11 April 2011

Earworm diary

I keep waking up with tunes on the brain. Sometimes good, sometimes awful. In the last week or two, we've had:

Pulp - Common People
Rebecka Törnqvist - Jeremy Jeremiah (3 times)
Propellerheads - On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Ed Alleyne-Johnston - Purple Electric Violin Concerto
The Lilac Time - The Girl Who Waves at Trains
Nicole Atkins - Maybe Tonight

and finally
That irritating music they play on Britain's Best Dish when they're plating up.

I need help.

07 April 2011

Signoff ambiguity

If you got a text message from Malcolm X, and he signed it "malcolm x", how would you know whether he was being formal and using his full name, or being informal and affectionate?

And then comes the dilemma of whether to end your reply with a kiss, and risk the recipient thinking you were mocking him...