Day Out in Brighton

Headed off for a spur-of-the-moment day out in Brighton yesterday. We didn’t have any particular plans, though we did want to pop into Jeremy Hoye to get our wedding rings re-polished. When we got there, their workshop was closed for the day so we had to skip that.

We wandered around Brighton for a little while, and then headed off to Kemp Town on a wild goose chase, looking for a running shop that Vic thought was over there (but had omitted to bring the name or address). After walking for a while, we gave up and headed down to Brighton seafront to watch the sun go down. By now we were starting to feel the cold and headed to Sidewinder for a drink. After a couple of pints of strong cider and a very good meal, we headed back home.

Oops they did it again!

No, not a blog entry about Britney Spears.
Grimsby Town responded to me wishing them good luck against Port Vale by losing 5-1 They lost two players last week, but signed another on loan. They really need to sort things out as they’re yoyoing between good results against very good teams, and terrible results against mediocre/bad ones. I guess what they could really do with is something like the reported half a million quid that Fatboy Slim paid for a share in Brighton & Hove Albion.

Just what you need

Women’s football (or soccer for those of a US persuasion): Always struggling to get away from sterotypes, prejudice and pre-conceptions, and then Sepp Blatter, the head of the world football organisation, FIFA comes out and says Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. “They could, for example, have tighter shorts. I’m sure that really helps!

On a footballing theme, some of you may know that I still follow Grimsby Town (The Mariners), as they’re my home town team. They’re having a bit of a rough season, following relegation from Division One last season. The excellent Cod Almighty site has a very entertaining diary of the trials and tribulations of the team and their fans. They also produce much-needed ‘Grimsby Is Not In Yorkshire’ t-shirts .

Here’s hoping Town do well against Port Vale today.


We watched the first two episodes of C4 new series, ‘Shameless’ last night. I wasn’t expecting much as a lot of recent UK comedy shows have been pretty poor, but this was really quite good.

Maxine Peake (probably best known for playing the part of Twinkle in dinnerladies was in it, along with a few other familiar faces.

Extremely funny, gutsy and full-on; so good, in fact, that we watched the 2nd episode on E4 straight after the first had been shown on C4.

Action and Warlord

Reading ScaryDuck memories of 2000AD got me thinking back to the comics I used to read when I was a boy. The two that I remember most clearly are Warlord and Action.

Warlord was published in 1974 (when I was 7 years old) and was a war comic for boys, featuring Lord Peter Flint, codename Warlord. It was definitely the comic you had to read if you were a boy in those days. Somehow, I don’t think a comic consisting solely of war stories would be allowed now. There were free gifts attached to the cover, though all I can remember about those is codebooks for sending secret messages. Jim Wilkinson, Andrew Payling and I were all members of the Fireball Club, a “secret agent” club that was run through Warlord comic.

Action came out in 1976 and was much more controversial. It had ultra-violent stories like Hookjaw, about a shark with a harpoon sticking through its jaw, and Deathgame 1999, which was about a rollerball-like game. These were obviously influenced by the films “Jaws”, “Deathrace 2000” and “Rollerball”, which were in the cinemas around that time, but which young boys would be unable to see due to their “X” rating. Hookjaw was printed with blood shown in red ink, which made it even more exciting (and gory). Fabulous! Action got into trouble with WH Smith and Menzies later in 1976, due to the violence in the stories and was banned/suspended for 6 weeks, returning with much less violence. I think I lost interest at that point.

Reading up on these comics on the net, it would seem that Action was the predecessor for 2000AD with many of the same editors, writers and artists. I wasn’t fanatical about 2000AD, but enjoyed some of the stories. 2000AD is now owned by Rebellion a UK computer games company.

Busy doing little

So far today I have achieved the following:-

  • Got out of bed
  • Dressed
  • Read my email
  • Read a bunch of web sites
  • Had the shopping delivered
  • Unpacked the shopping

Now some of you might say that’s really only 4 things, but when you have done as little as I have today you have to pad things out, okay?

Shopping was a bit of a disaster as Vic had ordered it and Sainsbury, in their time-honoured fashion, decided that they’d make a few substitutions to make our lives more interesting. So, instead of a bottle of plain olive oil and a bottle of flax oil (no, I have no idea what that’s for… oiling flaxes, possibly?!), we received two bottles of Extra Virgin olive oil.. one organic, one full of bad chemicals (I presume, it didn’t say organic anyway). Now this is a bad thing . I wouldn’t know why, but someone tells me that we need several types of olive oil. When I lived alone here, I managed to survive for at least 5 years with no olive oil at all, let alone 3 different types. Still, lovely Vic does make exceedingly good food.

Todays task is to remove the bathroom sealant from the bath edge and replace it with new stuff. The old one, put on two years ago by some builders appears to have been infested with a mold which makes it all go black and grim.

Oh, just remembered something else I’ve done. I scanned an article from the May 1982 edition of The Face. That’ll be appearing on a site near you later in the week.

To the bathroom, slacker…

Anti-Bayesian spam

If you get spam, you’ll probably have noticed the recent trend towards spam full of random words. This is intended to defeat Bayesian anti-spam filters which mark emails as spam if they have words in them which are found in other spam. And it does generally seem to get through SpamAssassin which is the filter I’m using on my mail server.

The reason it gets by is that the random words e.g. “storm antiquated biaxial genevieve askew evensong compressor foothill ludwig eyeglass irwin delano narcissist calumny messrs dan begin oratorical depict platitude“, are not in themselves spam-like. However, real non-spam email never has strings of words like that. Of the anti-Bayesian spam I’ve seen, none actually looks like real mail; there’s no grammar and too many consectutive long words (or maybe the people who send me email have small vocabularies?). There are too few occurances of “the”, “it”, “and” etc.

The next step towards defeating this spam could be to perform basic lexical analysis of the content, to see whether it looks like real text. There are a number of problems with this though:

  • Non-English languages may be much harder to handle.
  • The spammers may start including random sections of real text
  • It’s yet another load on the spam filters

The blacklists have taken a battering over the past few months, which various viruses being targetted at bringing them down, but they’re still one of the best weapons we have to stop spam.

Most of my spam arrives through Demon as my mail server blocks blacklisted hosts. I use fetchmail to pull my Demon mail onto my server, where it’s passed through SpamAssassin . SpamAssassin marks the stuff that it thinks is spam, which is then dumped into an IMAP folder for later checking. With Demon finally annoucing that they’re putting in some spam filtering, the level of spam I get should drop off even more.

Update: Just after posting this I got my first piece of spam marked with the Habeas mark which is a short verse of trademark poetry used to indicate that a sender is trustworthy. I’ve reported the spam to Habeas; the idea being that illegal use of their trademark means that they can sue the spammer. We’ll see…

From Outlook to Apple Address Book

I’ve been trying to consolidate the address books on my various machines (Windows PC running Outlook 2002, Apple Powerbook running Address Book, and Sony Clie UX50). Being the nice program that it is, Outlook 2002 will let you export contacts as vCards. Great! Address Book will read those. However, Microsoft don’t want to be seen making it easy for people to migrate away from their programs so they only let you export to vCards one contact at a time. I could learn VBA and write a script to export all my contacts, but, frankly, I have better things to do with my time. Fortunately, someone else has encountered much the same problem, though they were creating vCards for import into Evolution So, if you want to export multiple vCards, for importing into another contact manager, I can recommend Outport which does exactly that (and also handles all of the other data stored in Outlook).

I’ve now consolidated everything onto the Mac, and using Missing Sync I can sync that with my Clie, and my Sony Ericsson T68i.
If only I hadn’t somehow managed to delete all the birthday dates from Outlook’s calendar…

Art and Parties

Vic and I went to Taunton for the weekend, to attend Vic’s friend Lisa’s 30th birthday party. That all went well, despite the weather being occasionally grim. We had a good time, with a nice walk on Saturday afternon to the local pub, the Hatch Inn in Hatch Beauchamp. The pub stayed open on Saturday afternoon because there were so many people from the party there.
Two of the guests at the party were Nigel Skinner and Heather Green . Nigel is a painter, Heather is a sculptor, and examples of their work can be found on their website.

Are We Not Men?

The DVD fairies at have sent me Devo: The Complete Truth About De-Evolution”. Great compilation of a most of the Devo videos from the 70’s and 80’s, including “Whip It”, “Satisfaction” and “Girl U Want”.

It’s actually a pretty straight-forward transfer of the 1992 Laserdisc, and even includes several segments of the Devo guys talking about Laserdiscs. There are a bunch of extra features including clips from early Devo gigs, memorabilia etc. Not bad for £13.

Anyone want to buy my old VHS tape of Devo videos? Ah well, must get myself set up for selling on Ebay