January 2006 Archives

Big Day Tomorrow

Type 45Just when I thought the most important day in the calendar was my birthday, our esteemed UK shareholder announces the launch of their latest big ship. So, a double celebration tomorrow, and a chance to drink to the future of the Royal Navy as well ;-)

Interestingly, whilst debating screen sizes for our works intranet and reporting dashboards, I came across this gem. It's bested viewed at a resolution greater than 800x600 in order to see what I mean. Now, I know my personal site isn't exactly compliant with screen size (when I get time, it will), but you have to agree that the Eurosam site isn't any better. Now, who owns that company ;-)

Filling In The Blanks

Looks like I had a great night out on Friday. At least 12 "birthday" JD's, as well as various pints and other shots. Certainly explains why I can't really remember much. And why I felt hungover on Sunday, and couldn't walk in a straight line come Saturday afternoon. It's amazing how hard it is walking round Somerfield when you can't see straight :-O

But, I do remember one thing clearly ;-) And I've a phone number. Which, if I can pluck up the courage, I'll be calling tomorrow ;-)

First Sunday Roast of 2006

After the club committee meeting finished earlier than expected, I found myself coming back down the A14 wondering where I could grab a cuppa. After missing seeing Jules Aunt's and Uncle's yesterday when they popped over, it seemed a good opportunity to pop over Lynne and Laurie's for a cuppa :-D

A chance to see the house and the new conservatory, and, more importantly, the camper van. It looks amazing, sat on stands and within days of being finished and readed for painting. The panelwork is unreal, it's hard to believe some of it has been done from scratch, some bits not being available, or pattern panels which just aren't patterns of the original panel. It should be all done in time for the summer, so I'll have to sort out another trip up there to see it all kitted out and polished up :-D

Club GTI Are Go!

After Friday's amazing night out (please, any info on how much I had to drink, what I did, and did I meet up with Julie Saunders??), and pretty much a whole day in bed Saturday, today was the first committee meeting in I can't remember how long I managed to get to.

And what a meeting :-D

There's lots happening, lots of ideas, and ooodles of enthusiasm. Nothing to report here, but if you're a GTI enthusiast keep an eye on Club GTI Online and the various car shows for news on improvements and developments.

As VW say, it's the original, updated ;-)


What You Looking At?

I've been watching and reading with interest, the news about the US Government's Justice Department's request for Google to hand over information on it's users search requests.

The latest has Google resisting efforts by the US Department of Justice to force it to hand over data about what people are looking for. More interestingly, and perhaps not as well publicised, is the fact that competitors, notably Yahoo and Microsoft, have complied and handed over the requested information.

So, the US government can see what you're looking at? Fine, if you're a madman, bent on blowing the world up, or a pervert, intent on looking at child porn. That sort of thing needs attention, in my opinion. But what about industry, say a non-US business, searching for clues on what's the next big thing. Competitive advantage? And where does it stop? When will it become a clampdown on free speech and the beauty of the 'net being a society which has more freedom than can be measured?

Whales In London?

Rescuers put the whale in a slingYou'll probably have seen over the weekend, news of a whale in the Thames. Yes, hard to believe, even when news started coming through late on Friday. You can imagine, for us lot, sitting with a selection of real ales, that it was possible we were hearing and seeing things. But, true enough, a Northern Bottle-nosed whale, for some reason, decided to take a swim up the Thames at lunchtime on Friday. And, despite valiant attempts to rescue her, the whale died on the rescue barge early on Saturday evening.

Discussions, I see today, have started as to what will now happen to the dead whale. Fascinating, then, to see the The Maritime Coastguard Agency stating that, as the whale died on the barge and not land, it's nowt to do with them, guv.

Also, nice to see that London's traffic wardens were hard at work...

You Shall Go To The Beer Festival!

Having had a Primavera meeting in London arranged over the already booked in trip to Our Mutual Friend's beer festival, you can imagine the glee when the meeting finished at lunchtime. So it was a rather rapid departure from Kings Cross, back to grab the car, and then off down the pub to catch up with everyone else who'd been down there since early lunchtime.

Lots of fantastic brews, and some of the best pork pies I've had, EVER :-D

Also, chatting the guy responsible for providing our ESD training, discovered he used to work in Hull, has a son studying there, and used to play footy at school with a bloke called Peter Taylor :-D Ian, the East Stand needs to start shouting, "Show us your Norman Wisdom, Peter"!

It's a small world, getting smaller every day...

Hot Explosions

In The Guardian today, news of a new laser being developed at Aldermaston.

The 'Orion' project will be, it claims, the worlds most powerful laser. It will be used to recreate extreme temperature environments, heating material fragments up to 3 million degrees C. Due to come online in 2010, it will have over 100 AWE scientists working on projects involving it.

Sounds a real cutting edge development, and nothing like my final year laser Muzzle Velocity Measurement System, (MVMS ®), which only had a range of 1 kilometre, (using a collimator), with the only heating ability being that of eye damage if you didn't wear protection. But then, it was powered by a PP3 battery, and pretty much held together with sticky-back plastic and string ;-)

Happy Birthday Jules

JulesIt's Jules birthday today :-(

I always muddled it up with the 19th. And Jules would always call me up on it, correcting me as if I really had forgotten.

Hard to believe, but 614 days have gone by...

Down in London all day with work, so I'm going to be back late. Maybe not late enough to grab a pint at Our Mutual Friend (there's a 20 ale beer festival on), but I've a couple of bottles of London Pride in the fridge at home, just in case ;-)

Strange Calls

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Been getting a number of calls over the last few months, which, when I've answered, have simply hung up. As it's been getting more and more irritating, I'd started to log them in my Contacts, just to see if it's the same number or not.

Well, lunchtime today, the mobile rings. And, sure enough, it's one of these numbers. In this case, 0870 042 6655. So, just on the off chance, I Google'd for it. And I found this:

Having a look through, one recent listing takes you to another blog, and how they've tracked down where they're coming from, and more importantly, why.

Turns out it's a sneaky marketing ploy. They call you, hang up, and you, foolishly, call them back. They make money from the call, and then try and sell you a new mobile.

I'm glad I've got that number in the mobile now, least I know not to answer it anymore ;-)

Not Long Now!

 BAC TSR.2 News from Airfix that the long wait for the TSR.2 is nearly over. Kits are due to arrive on February 15th, and should start shipping around the country from February 20th, assuming no delays or problems with Customs ;-)

More importantly, Club members will be given exclusive access to 250 kits, which should mean being able to get hold of one, as the 10,000 kit run is sold out, least if you go and try to order one online or from your local model shop :-O

Also, the February edition of Scale Aviation Modeller International has an exclusive first look at the TSR.2 via pre-production test shots. Will have to grab a copy over the weekend for a look-see ;-)

Cheaper Bedside Calls?

If you remember, when Jules was in The Royal Free, I'd posted about the bedside phones. A useful means of communication, but hugely expensive, both in calling out and calling in.

Well, it seems we weren't the only ones that thought the charges were a bit excessive. The Department of Health has been ordered to review the charges made to hospital patients for telephone calls. As usual, it appears the costs are as a result of the complex nature of providing the service, and the various providers it has to go through. Hopefully, as a result of the Ofcom investigation, things will change, and it'll be cheaper calling your relative in hospital, rather than more expensive than calling your Aunt in Australia :-O

Indestructable Paper!

As the title says, Tyvek, the indestructable paper. It's made from polyethylene, so finely wound that it acts the same as paper. Explains why the package I got today hadn't been torn to shreds.

No more excuses for kids homework, the dog's not going to be able to eat this stuff ;-)

Not Really News

Image: Photogrpah of an UAV.Images of the UK's first prototype UAV's have been released this week as more detail discussion of the Defence Industrial Strategy takes place.

I must admit I'd puzzled as to why this was news. Then I remembered. There's lots happening out there, to make the world a safer place. Hey ho, walls have ears, talk costs lives, and all that ;-)

Airbus On The Up

Depending on which paper you read, or news you listen to, Airbus is winning the jet war against Boeing, with it selling and delivering more aircraft than it's rival. This annoucement comes shortly after Boeing revealed a record order book for 2005 earlier in the month.

Now, many are arguing the numbers, saying that in terms of deliveries, one is better than the other. And, of course, neither Boeing or Airbus, it seems, can agree on what is the true measure of market leadership, each claiming that crown.

Either way, my shares are doing very well at the moment, the planned rebuild of the cabrio coming closer and closer each day ;-)

London Marathon

The Royal Free Cancer Research TrustWhilst out on Friday, I found out that there's a guy at work doing this years London Marathon, in aid of The Royal Free Cancer Research Trust. They're involved in funding research into developing new therapies that target cancer, and at the same time, look at reducing the side effects suffered from current therapies. A worthy cause, I think you'll agree :-D And I'm sure Jules consultant, Mr Dorward, still does the marathon, raising funds for on-going research.

If anyone wants to sponsor him, drop me an email and I'll pass it on :-D

Drinking At The Wheel

News that Audi have announced their new Roadjet concept will have a onboard expresso machine.

Hmmm, not sure if this'll catch on. I mean, how are you going to power the roaster and grinder as well...

The Sweet Smell of A Woman - Explained!

News on the BBC this lunchtime, that a woman's smell can help her attract men when she's most fertile, according to a report in Ethology. It appears that underarm odour is governed by the menstrual cycle, the smell being mildest at the most fertile part of the menstrual cycle. The news continues, explaining how, having run the same experiment on men's smell, the women picked out the "dominant" men during the same period, but didn't seem to have any preference during the rest of the month.

This follows up the story I remember catching late last year, about the research that suggested Women with high levels of the sex hormone oestrogen have prettier faces.

What's interesting with this latest study is it flies against the theories currently in place, whereby this behaviour was well understood in our primate relatives, but not believed to be true for us humans.

Brings a whole new meaning to the comment, "Owh, you smell gorgeous tonite, petal" ;-)

Off To The Big House In The Country!

Been out for the day to see Jules Aunt and Uncle in Ramsay. They've recently, well in the last year or so, moved house. The new place is HUGE. A clever conversion of a 2 floor house by adding a futher floor where the loft would be.

It's an amazing place, with huge rooms round every corner. And all wired for sound and light in every room :-D But it's only temporary, while the proper family home is built next door. As Jules would say, "That's Delboy for ya" ;-)

Jem's Left.... And I've Lost My Mind...

Too much to drink, and the worst hangover in years. That pretty much sums up my Saturday. Have arisen in the last few minutes, to grab more headache tablets, and decamp downstairs to the sofa to watch telly and start to shake off the hangover from Hell.

I've little recollection of events beyond the first tequlia slammer. Although I do remember thinking, at the time, salt and lime on top of everything else I'd had, wasn't the most sensible of things to be doing. How I got home, I don't know. And what time I left, is a mystery. I've a number of missed calls, and my mobile appears to have found it's way under the bed?

[UPDATE] Apparently I was completely uncomprehensible. Which worries me, because that means I must've walked, since getting a taxi would've required me to communicate. Which, apparently, I was very much unable to do by then!

Apples and Musical Pants

Macworld, yesterday, kicked off with the big announcement from Steve Jobs. Those of us lucky enough to have the ability to watch and listen while it happened, (yes, my PC doesn't have sound), would've seen probably one of the best un-kept secrets announced, and that's the new iMac with Intel inside, ding, do-do do-do, is on it's way, much earlier than originally planned. Of course, that means that Mac owners can, at last, start using the proper PC chipset and operating system, Windows they've so long been hankering for, cough ;-)

Buried in and amongst all the news on the BBC, was also a story about Levi's, and their iPod jeans :-O Retailing at £114, they have all the necessary plugs and adaptors, as well as built-in headphones, for the fashion-concious iPod owner. It's part of their attempts to regain the clothing market, having struggled in recent years. Now, I'm not saying it's a bold and innovative step, but I'd have loved to have been a fly-on-the-wall when this was discussed by the sales guys,
"Hey I've an idea, how about jeans that let you listen to your iPod!",
"Nah, that's pants..." ;-)

Sleep Is Bad For You

News that mental skills are found to be 'worse after sleep' on the BBC this lunchtime. Reinforcing my approach to life, and burning the candle at both ends (why else have 2 ends ;-)).

Research has showed that at the early stage of awakening you're less likely to be able to function 100% than if you've been awake for hours.

So, bods to having an early night tonight. I'm staying up and watching the complete trilogy of Star Wars episode 1 to 6, followed by Hitchhikers, and then to finish the morning, the Simpsons. And lets see what state I'm in at work tomorrow lunchtime ;-)

Well, Ian's Been Telling Me This For Ages

So, finally, US experts have concluded that taking cough medicine does little to help recovery.

Ian's been telling me this for ages now. Just take paracetamol, it's cheaper and works just as well on the fever, rather than buying the exotic concoctions. And just put up with the sore throat and nose blowing.

Fortunately, my shares in Reckitt Benckiser don't appear to be suffering yet. As long as I keep getting my Lemsip dividend ;-)


Like A Hole In The Head: Living With A Brain TumourFinished reading Ivan Noble's book of his online diary, Like A Hole In The Head: Living With A Brain Tumour, last night. To give you an idea of how long it takes me to read a book at present, and if you can remember that far back, I'd bought it back in May last year, around the first anniversary of Jules funeral.

An emotional read, I'd be kidding anyone if I said any different. And had me wondering what would Jules' weblog have turned out like if she'd been more able to express herself directly, rather than through me and my emotions. Interesting, to read on the BBC site, the potential impact of all these print and online accounts can have on sufferers and carers alike.

Surfing Amazon for a link for the above, I've noticed a few other books, accounts of people's battles with tumours. Not sure if I'm ready to buy another book like this one, but I'll keep my eye out. And besides, as many of you know, I've a mountain of literature to get into at home, without worrying about adding another title to the pile ;-)

The Keys Arrived!

After several months of chasing and ordering, my work USB key has finally arrived :-D

It's a V-Tec V-drive USB Flash Drive, unfortunately only 256Mb, apparently anything larger is yet to be approved by Security, or something like that. And at £37 I'm not sure who's making the money from it, having seen how much it costs to buy direct :-O And yes, Ian, I've already started looking on eBay for one for myself, at a much cheaper price ;-)

So, now I can transfer files off the laptop when I'm away, instead of burning countless CD's. Strange how new laptops don't come with floppy drives. Is it an indication of the demise of the floppy disk?

Online Pizza?

So how's that work? And why would you want to order your pizza online?

I'm assuming the news that Domino's online sales boost over Christmas was down to the interactive services, "the red button", on digital TV, and not from people sat in front of a PC thinking, "Owh, I fancy a pizza", click.

Watching the Simpsons I can see how this catches on. It's teatime and you get bombarded by lots and lots of images of hot, tasty looking, pizza. Of course, the delivered article never lives upto the expectation. Which is why I prefer my home-made curry and chilli while watching, instead ;-)

20 Years Ago Today

Tom, our DadI was stood, waiting in my bedroom, my Nana telling me she had something important to tell me. Nigel had gone off to school, and I was staying home, a problem with school choice not allowing me to go to the school I wanted to go to. The news wasn't expected, and soon there was lots and lots of people in the house. I remember Ian, only 4 years old, asking at the wake, who's birthday it was, thinking it was a party.

20 years ago today, our Dad died. Not something many will know since, as I've been told, I don't share myself and my life much. What's the point, other people have far more taxing things to worry about.

We'd gone shopping for Christmas, and had to cut it short, Dad suffering from chronic indegestion. It didn't get any better, so, asking me to put into practise my Scouting, he told me to ring for an ambulance. It came and rushed him to hospital, leaving me to let Mum know what was happening.

It's strange, how things stick in your mind. Like the memory of seeing Dad in hospital over Christmas, how he apologised for not taking an interest in our Christmas presents, because of all the drugs he was on. Or sitting at the top of the stairs, age 11, helping build one of many model aeroplanes before heading off to school. Or how, having completed one masterpiece, he flew it straight into a lampost at a display. And, how one winter up at Beverley Westwood, we watched Dad, a little too eager, fly off a slope in the snow at great speed, only to hit the ground and smash our sledge to bits. Oh, and put himself out of action with a bad back for goodness knows how long.

I've no idea how my Mum coped with it. It humbles me when she says she's amazed with how I've coped with everything that's happened to me.

Life is what you make it mean, nothing more and nothing less. Be comfortable in what it means, and play the game from the pitch and not sat, watching from the stands.

Some people say, "Deal with it", or "Get A Grip", in a rather foreign and sometimes callious way. Well, to those of you that say that, f&%^ off. We'll all deal with it as and when we wish. And for those many of you with the friendship and support, thank you for listening and allowing the space to deal with it.

No More Wheat Crunchies?

Golden Wonder have gone bust :-(

Such famous snacks as Ringos, Nik Naks, and Wheat Crunchies, all possibly never to be seen again. There's hope from the administrators that it can be sold on as a going concern, but risks of closure can't be ruled out.

Gotta go, need to get down ASDA and stock up before supplies run out. You never know when you might next be able to get a hold of Spciy Tomato Wheat Crunchies, or Saucy Nik Naks :-(

Blueberry Ribena?

Ribena bottlesNews that Ribena are to introduce a new |blueberry softdrink for the female 18-30 market.

Apparently sales of blueberries has nearly doubled in the last year, on news that the fruit could help the body protect itself from a variety of illnesses. Interestingly, blackcurrant growers are hitting back with a campaign reminding consumers that their fruit contains more anti-oxidants, thus helping with a healthly lifestyle.

Of course, it's not the first new flavour, Ribena being available in Strawberry, Apple, and Orange. It'll be interesting to see how it catches on, and whether this latest health fade will catch or not.

Oh, and before you ask, I am looking for a blueberry tea to add to my other infusions ;-)


Caught this story over Christmas. How the news, back in 2004, that he'd successfully managed to clone human embryos, and last year the announcement of the creation of stem cells matched to a patient, was all fabricated.

The BBC website discusses how this may impact on future research.

It doesn't sound like it will impact research, but the publicity will no doubt increase the doubts and questions for any future announcements or discoveries.

Explosion On The Moon!

Artist's impression of explosion, NasaNews of a meteorite hitting the moon, on the BBC website.

Kinda puts the meteorite I saw over the back of the house into perspective. It didn't hit quite as spectacularly as the picture shown.

Haven't seen any for ages, and it sounds like it was part of the shower that impacted on the moon. Amazing sight, flashing across the sky, before disappearing somewhere over the back of the local woods. Was half expecting some glowing light affair, and alien invasion. But then I remembered I was in Stevenage, and why on earth would they want to visit a place like this ;-)

Found My New Phone

Nokia N80The New Nokia N80, shots of which I've seen over Christmas on telly. What I do like about it is it's not that dissimilar to my current phone, the memory-lacking 7650.

Looks cool, I reckon, and more importantly, has the necessary memory (40Mb built-in, 128Mb miniSD card) to make it worthwhile. And not, as my 7650 does, keep informing me I've not enough memory left to do anything with. And, surprisingly, it's lighter and smaller than my 7650, so the comments about a phone being an extension of your manhood will go out the window ;-)

Software wise, it's got built-in viewers for Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Interfaces include Bluetooth and infrared (hurrah!), as well as WLAN and USB. And, at last, the phone comes with all the cables, rather than having to spend an arm and a leg buying them seperately.

Can't wait til April now, when my CON-tract with one of Orange's agents ends :-D

Cup Run Ended - Onto The League!

TigersFA Cup match today between Hull City and Aston Villa. Did manage to pop and see a game over the Christmas period. They were playing Ipswich, at home, and it was an impressive game, if only for the 20,000+ attendance, a massive crowd for a game of football. Bloody cold, but managed to keep warm, thanks to Ebo's Christmas pressie, a City scarf :-D Also good to see the home team playing football, something they never seemed to crack at Boothferry Park. Disappointing to hear, having read the local papers, that some fans have been questioning Peter Taylor's ability to manage after the recent string of injuries and results :-(

Of course, I do know one occasional reader of the site will be happy with the FA Cup result ;-)

All Self-Employed People Are Crooks?

or so a recent advert in the natonal press on 14th December would have you believe. In it your favourite government department, HM Revenue & Customs, advertise a hotline to shop all those dodgy tax-dodging self-employed, because, apparently, none of them pay tax or national insurance. The advert itself depicts a plumber trying to hide under a sink, with the caption "With your help, we'll make sure self employed people who don’t pay their tax have nowhere to hide...".

Needless to say a number of trade associations are up in arms. One close to home, The Federation of Small Businesses, has submitted a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority regarding the advert. And they suggest others should complain, by writing to the ASA, or going to www.asa.org.uk/asa/how_to_complain/

Bex Online

Trawling through loads and loads of email this weekend, most of it from over Christmas. Really need to sort out my mobile and why it doesn't seem to like downloading any email over 2kb :-(

Anyway's, one of Jules' cousins has changed emails, which I'm sure I've noted. But I didn't notice she's online, at http://www.myspace.com/_sillyrabbit. It's fairly work-safe, for those worrying, and an interesting look into the life of our Bex ;-)

A Sad Day Indeed

News today that one of my friends at work, Jemma, is leaving, and off to travel the world :-(

She's off on her travels with her brother, and they've set up a blog site to keep everyone in touch, and jealous ;-) It has a complete itinerary, map of where they're off to, and a message board to leave messages. And a gallery, which I'm told will be filling up once they're off. Pretty cool really.

Of course, the rumour that many hearts broke shortly after 11am today can not be proven. But I did see a few disappointed faces around site this afternoon ;-)

2006 - A Big Year for Hull

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Humber BridgeAs you'll no doubt gather, it's a big year for the second largest suspension bridge in the world. Opened on 24th June 1981, it'll have been open for 25 years this year. Plans for celebrations are already under way, so it'll be well worth the effort getting up to Hull and enjoying the party atmosphere in June :-D

A cool 360 degree view can be found on the BBC Humber 360 site. And there's also a Humber Bridge site run by the Humber Bridge Board, full of facts and history.

There's something else special about this year too, something reaching 25 years, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is...

Back Home

Well, that's me back in Stevenage once more. A fantastic drive back, just like the one up. No lorries on the A1 really makes for a quicker journey, I'm sure.

Actually got back around 8:30, but have been sat on the sofa, pinned down by a cat that's obviously missed me :-D And even now, he's getting in the way as I try and type this ;-)

It's great being back home, a little peace and quiet. Of course, it's back to work tomorrow :-( I could do with another week just to recover from the festivities. But hey :-D, it's nearly the weekend ;-)

Happy New Year

Just out partying round a friend's in Hull. And letting off some HUGE fireworks (not as loud as Ebo's ;-)).

Happy New Year everyone :-D

Here's wishing you all the best for 2006 and all the luck you wish for ;-)

About Alan Bell

Lapsed: electronic engineer, scout leader, project controller.
Now: Oracle Primavera training consultant, business support manager, occasional website designer.

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