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Blog : Posts from January 2007 : Page 1

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Flooding

In which Exchange causes problems


Microsoft, everyone’s favourite evil behemoth, have been getting as much press as they can in the past few days to push their new operating system. At the same time, though, their software has been making my life a drag. And there’s nothing at all I can do about it.

The problem is their email server “messaging solution”, the horrible and nightmarish Microsoft Exchange. I know it’s a horrid system to babysit, but fortunately I don’t have to do any of that. Worse, though, it can make life bad for people like me who shouldn’t have to have anything to do with it.

Like most things Microsoft produces, it has a showstopper of a bug. It’s triggered by an innocent salesman* who decides to send an email to a long, long list of people at once. His (or her) own system has nothing to do with this; the problem is when one of the people in the recipient list uses a buggy Exchange. Their server will read the email, and send it out again. To all of the recipients. Thousands and thousands and thousands of times. Each copy looking like it’s coming from the original sender.

Moreover, some of those people will then reply, saying things like “why are you sending me thousands of emails, you fuckwit?” They don’t really help, though, because inevitably they push the “reply to all” button. Meaning they then generate a second email which triggers the same bug, so that email, too, gets duplicated thousands and thousands and thousands of times, until the administrator of the buggy server wakes up and takes their server offline to recover for a while.

Bugs in software are unavoidable. Most of them, though, don’t cause problems for more than one person at once. Bugs like that, though, that can block up internet connections and mail servers for hours at a time, should never have been released. Releasing software that disrupts the rest of the world, in that way, is unforgivable.

* Well, it’s not salesman-specific. But for some reason, it seems to be salesmen that set it off most of the time

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Departure

In which we leave for home


Leaving is always hard. Leaving somewhere you want to stay is a difficult thing to do.

What’s worse, though, is being left behind. It’s a feeling I’ve always hated, whenever I’ve had guests. The emptiness of the house, of the room, after people you’ve wanted to spend time with have gone away. If you’re the person leaving, you have travelling to do, things to take your mind off the departure. If you’re the person being left, you have nothing to help you.

Because of that, I can always sympathise, with anyone in that situation.

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Words and pictures

In which we visit Devon


Well, not many words. Yesterday: a walk on the beach.

River Flagpole Sandstone

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The reading pile

In which we start reading something


Never mind about all the Books I Haven’t Read that I’ve been posting about here; since Christmas I’ve turned over a new leaf and started to cut the to-read pile down a bit. The way I’ve found time: spending half of my lunch hour every day with a book. Currently I’m in the middle of At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien, who…

The Plain People Of The Internet: Huzzah!

Oh, god, I should have known you lot would turn up if I mentioned O’Brien.

The Plain People Of The Internet: Why, it’s kind of expected.

Anyway, At Swim-Two-Birds is one of those books that I probably should have mentioned in Books I Haven’t Read, because it’s a classic of Irish literature. Flann O’Brien is one of those writers I’ve been meaning to write about here, but haven’t. His first novel is about a student writing a book, about a man writing a book, whose characters escape from his control.

The Plain People Of The Internet: Like this, you mean?

Well, sort of. But ruder.

Hopefully, I’m going to manage to finish it this time; and then get on with the rest of the to-read pile. There’s plenty to go at, after all.

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Things I have accomplished

In which things get listed


This week, I have managed to:

  • be completely baffled about the nature of relationships, women, and other people in general.
  • Make someone happy, just by putting a website online for them
  • (I didn’t even design the website myself)
  • Explain the meaning of the term “shaggy dog story”
  • Annoy my mother, as per usual
  • Annoy the cat, by ignoring him when he tries to wake me up at 5am
  • Let other people get me down (see point 1)
  • (yes, I know they’re not numbered)
  • Let me get myself down
  • And thus piss off most of the other people I know, by moping constantly.

On the other hand, I can always cheer myself up by reading what people have been searching for on the net, that has led them on a misguided goose-chase to this place:

drunken squirrel – sorry, no clue
carpenter furniture jokestart here and be prepared to groan
birthday presents for goths – black things? Possibly?
things you do automatically – I’m not sure. They’re automatic. I don’t really notice them.
how to snog a colleague – use your tongue
gerbils show around west midlands – I really have no clue now
“i hate grimsby” – don’t we all, dear
extreme kidnapping fantasies – Oh-kay…
sex in forest – …that’s enough of that, I think.

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Answers

In which FP got something right


Back in December, I briefly mentioned the King William’s College General Knowledge Paper, and ever since I’ve received hits from people searching for the answers. I had, indeed, posted three of the answers, but hadn’t mentioned which questions they were the answers too. The full answers have now been published, though,* and I’m pleased to find that all the answers I posted here were indeed correct. One of them (“In 1906, who benefited, through his far-eastern mediation, from a Nordic inventor’s bequest?”) needed a bit of research into Nobel Peace Prize winners; but the other two I spotted (“Which man in holy orders had a first edition of his own revolutionary theory of the heavens presented to him on his deathbed?” and “What is the Drain?”) I thought were really rather obvious “everyone will know those” questions, so I wasn’t really bothered about posting the answers to them here.

Still. Three right out of a hundred – it’s a bit rubbish, really!

* you can still get the questions from The Guardian or the school itself, at time of writing.

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By ‘eck

In which the past seems obvious


Within a month, another slightly silly news story about paleogenetics. This one isn’t quite as daft as tracing the descendants of Edgar Aetheling, though. Scientists in Leicester have discovered that loosely-related members of a Yorkshire family share an African ancestor, from at least 250 years ago* and probably further back than that.

Unlike the previous story, the research in this piece is all very sensible. What’s silly is the idea that it should be surprising, or that it’s a news story that we have African ancestors. Everyone in Europe probably has black ancestry somewhere in their family tree, if you go back five hundred years or so; and definitely if you go back a thousand.** What’s depressing, I suppose, is that there are people who don’t realise this: people who think that their family is white, has always been white, always will be white. They’re wrong, of course.

* because that’s the most recently their latest common ancestor can have lived.

** I am haunted by a vague memory from university, that the skull of an African monkey, a couple of thousand years old, was found somewhere in Ireland, thus proving contact with Africa back then. I can’t find any references for this at all, though.

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This is what the nineties looked like

In which we revisit the 1990s


Photo post of the week: photos from the archives, because I haven’t been out and about. These are all from 1996, I think; so this is what the 1990s looked like, to my eyes at any rate.

Old railyards near the sea wall Tower blocks Footbridge Beach

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Another shaggy dog

In which we tell a tall tale


There once was a teacher, who went by the name of Miss Swing. She was a very good teacher, popular with her children, who were all well-behaved and scored very well on all the tests they took. All the parents at parents’ evening either wanted to be her or be with her, and all her colleagues knew she was wonderful in the classroom, the best teacher the school had.

There was one small problem with Miss Swing, though. She would never agree with anyone else.

If you said something was black, she would say it was white. If you told her the weather was cold, she’d reply she thought it unseasonably warm. Anything you said to her, she would contradict if she could. The only exception was when she was on holiday, when she would be as pleasant and polite a person as you could ever meet. Apart from that, she would always disagree with everything you said.

Finally, one day, someone confronted her. “Why is it,” they said, “that when you’re on holiday you’re as charming as anyone, but when you’re in school, or even after work, you can never agree with anyone?”

“Ahh,” said Miss Swing, “I’m just a contradiction in terms.”

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Signs you’re English part 94: talking about the weather

In which we know it’s winter


Whenever you drive into Wooldale, there are big signs at the start of the road:

SNOW

followed by a list of all the main local roads, with lamps to flash if any of them are closed. And they never are, at least not when I drive up into Wooldale. Which is, to be honest, a shame. I’d rather like to drive up there through softly-falling snow and see the list of closed roads flashing at me. But, no, the roads are always open, with no flakes to be seen anywhere.

Last night, for example, was just the same as any other. There were thunderstorms, heavy rain pouring down and almost flooding the road back up to the motorway, but that was just down to blocked drains. It felt fairly warm, for January at least. No sign of snow at all, even at 2am when I left the club to head home. So I was slightly puzzled to wake up this morning, and hear that Wooldale had been snowed in. When it comes down, it can come sudden.

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