"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Shooting Pains

Just read this on Popbitch:

"Matthew J Hogan has just been appointed by the
Bush Government as director of the Fish and
Wildlife Service. Interestingly, Hogan was the
lobbyist for Safari Club International - an elite
club of exotic animal trophy hunters, as well
as a keen exotic hunter himself.

SCI has 40,000 members, and promotes global
competitive trophy hunting, with Grand Slam
and Inner Circle competitions. These include
Africa Big Five (leopard, elephant, lion, rhino,
buffalo), North American Twenty Nine (one of
each species of bear, bison, sheep, moose,
caribou, and deer), Big Cats of the World and
Antlered Game of the Americas. To complete all
29 awards, a hunter must kill 322 separate
species. Enough to populate a large zoo.

(FYI: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the
agency charged with granting or denying such
trophy import permits.)"

Are we actually living in some deranged, satirical novel? What the hell is going on over there? Is Bush the devil?

Battle for the black hole

Interesting tale of an Indian astrophysics student getting unfairly stuffed by the pre-war Cambridge establishment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Colin's right, I can't get a template that renders properly in both Firefox and IE

Back to basics until I can devote some time to sorting this out?

Product Placement


I know the world has got more important things to worry about, but product placement is one of those corrosive things that convinces me that we are gradually slipping into ruin. Fifteen years ago the idea of novelists and songwriters being paid to mention brands in their work have been satirical. Now it's seen as the inevitable future of advertising..

Friday, March 25, 2005

Just sold my mountain bike as I never use it these days

And immediately started thinking about the one to buy when I get back up to Scotland. This one. A beauty.

Blair joins the wristband craze

Conviction politician or opportunist? I think Blair manages to be both, somehow. (I'm probably voting Labour again this year).

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Actually this one is even better!


Cillit Bang Remix


Granta: The Factory

Excellent new Granta this quarter (89: The Factory). (Annoyingly www.granta.com is still showing the previous edition) . A good mix of fiction, social history and feature journalism around manufacturing, particularly its decline in UK.

Could be early signs of something analogous to 18th century pastoralism in literature: a celebration and nostalgia for industrialism, in the same way that writers once addressed the agrarian economy (of course, as discussed in Fitzroy, both were shit).

Sunday, March 20, 2005

City Churches

Went to a function at St Mary at Hill yesterday, a Wren church just off East Cheap. Astonishing, beautiful place. Even at weekends there is a sense of some ineffable energy in the City - the 1000 year old streets connecting the most ancient structures with the most modern...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

slow blogger

blogger *has* been pretty slow the last couple of days. i reckon we should monitor the situation with a view to moving to a different platform at some stage. am going to try and set something up when I get some free time...

False Dawn

Spring is in the air! It's sunny and warm! Yay! Winter's over! (As with every year at this time, this does of course mean that it's bound to snow at the weekend.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Gah! Fitzrovian passed over again in the weblog awards.

Grime Scene

Bloody hell, grime in The New Yorker. Nekkle!

On the Roof

My flatmate interviewed the writer Geoff Dyer the other day. This is quite a nice piece by him in an old Granta, about being a dole-bludging, aspirant writer idler in Brixton in the eighties - ending with some reassurance for those of us in the rat race who yearn for a life of chat and books instead.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Seeing spots

What's going on? What happened to comforting, familiar orange and white Fitzrovian? I'm in early middle age - I'm resistant to change! By the way John, do you know they're making a film of this?

Friday, March 11, 2005

comic relief

http://bbc.co.uk/rednoseday tel. 0857 910 910

google adwords

Guys, why don't we start running adwords on our site? I'm sure advertisers would love to get access to our high quality content and affluent audience. It could pay for drinks at the Fitzroy.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Shared online diaries

Anyone know any cheap/free shared online diary/collaboration services that we could use at work? We don't use MS Exchange Server / Outlook, so can't go down that route.


Experts weigh super-volcano risks

Ah well, important to get all this stuff into some kind of perspective... ;-)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Independent Labour Party

Anyone know anything about the ILP? Mentioned in this Times obituary about recently dead, interesting Scottish writer Robin Jenkins.

Friday, March 04, 2005


Real snow in London and one of the fastest ever bus journeys into work this morning - not very much traffic on the roads at all. I assume this means vast swathes of London's drivers decided to take the day off today or were stuck in huge tailbacks somewhere beyond the M25...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I love America...

Or at least the bottom half of it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4312181.stm

The Portable Virtual Privacy Machine

(A review by Phaemon)

A few months back I linked to this Virtual Machine you could run from a USB drive. At the time, I'd intended to try it out as I was expecting to get a 1GB USB drive from work. It mysteriously got lost on its way to me , so I'm still waiting for one. However, I realised that I could just run the thing from my harddisk, so here's a review to let you know what it is, what it's like and what it's used for.

First, from the above link, I just clicked the Download button and then downloaded the .zip file. It's about 87 MB, so not one for those on dial-up! I then unzipped it to a folder on my Desktop, double-clicked the qemu-win.bat file, as the readme.txt had instructed, and pressed Enter to start the boot. If I was on a linux machine, I would run the boot-linux.bat file instead. (screenshot)

It then opened a window that looked like a computer booting Linux. It detected the hardware, and found my network connection. This is the point where I realised that this is *slow*. I guess it's a full machine emulator, but even running on a 3 GHz Hyperthreaded P4, 512 MB RAM, it's pretty sluggish. I did notice that it only saw one of the processors (hyperthreading means the operating system should see two). I guess at least that had the advantage of letting me write this at the same time without slowing my machine completely to a crawl. (screenshot)

When booting was done I was left at the default desktop (screenshot) Notice at the top it says "QEMU - Press Ctrl-Shift to exit grab" This just means you press Ctrl-Shift to return the mouse cursor control to Windows. It's also obvious from the screenshot that they've based this on Damn Small Linux (DSL).

Next, to try out some web browsing (yes, I know the Dillo web browser is already running; I mean on Firefox). I double clicked on Firefox and....well, it just worked...the same as running it in Windows really. These guys have a bit of an intimidating home page, but since they're trying to sell their security stuff I guess that's understandable! (screenshot) I've blotted out the network details, since they're mine, but it's pretty much what any website sees when you visit it. It's worth nothing that Firefox took 30 seconds to start, though it might have been a bit quicker as I'd made an earlier configuration error while messing around which could have slowed it down. More on this later...

OK, it can run off any drive, including USB stick, so it's Portable. It's runs in an emulator, so it's Virtual. What about the Privacy bit? Well, that's the Metropipe Tunneler icon you saw on the Desktop. I double click that, click Start Tunnel and when it says Tunneler Connected I can start (or restart) Firefox. See the difference? (screenshot) I'm now connected with an encrypted connection through Metropipe's servers. No website knows where I'm coming from, and the connection is encrypted right to my Desktop. Very easy.

Well, that's about it. Any changes you make are saved in the folder you run it from, so you can use any computer running either Windows or Linux with a net connection, to get on the net without altering their configuration in any way, and with your own customised one. I think this is a project with a lot of potential. Well worth a shot if you've got around 90 Meg of free disk space...

Free to download and use
Easy to setup (almost no setup really!) and run
Privacy and a virtual machine all in one little useful package
Can run from a folder on a harddisk or off USB stick
Can run on any Windows or Linux machine

No MacOS X support (yet; it's apparently coming)
Not running the latest software

[OK, the problem mentioned earlier and described below was my own stupid fault. I closed the Tunneler without stopping it. You'd think I could manage an application that has just two buttons...]

(Oh yes, I promised to mention that problem with starting Firefox. It was that I'd run the Tunneler in a previous session and it automatically set it up to use the Tunneler (as a proxy). When I went back in I'd forgotton to turn it off, and it had saved the setting. I now don't seem to be able to make it remember to NOT use a proxy. I can set it and run it, but if I restart Firefox, it's looking to go through the Tunneler again. Odd bug, but nothing major. I could probably fix it if I really looked...)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Anyone see the article about Freecycle in the Observer on Sunday? Nice idea - like ebay, but you give stuff away. There's a London group.