Simon’s Backup Weblog


Yaar! It be PIRATE spam!

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 30, 2005

I seem to be getting a lot of spam wrapped up in text from various pieces of pirate fiction…

Like this piece here:

that’s it! cried one of Levasseur’s officers. And Cahusac added: Captain Blood, and I had hoped that we might be friends. But since Colonel Bishop set his foot upon the crossbar, and leaned over his will you came. I am not the man with whom a woman can play fast aside to give her passage. She took it, chin in the air, and eyes A note for you from the Deputy-Governor, said the master shortly, smoke his pipe and tend his geraniums on this evening of all motive Blood, himself, had refused to render any account of his that any course that were not in honour would be possible to me?the devil may you be? he asked. boucans or their logwood, or else sail out of the Caribbean Sea.dirty thief who has brought all this about. What could you have early resolved that the boy should follow his own honourable was past, you would not afterwards admit to him that he was so and waved a hand in implied resignation. The Deputy-Governor mind and plan coherently what was to be done. Also he must consult

What’s more, they seem to be spam advertising pirated software…

(one for to avoid!)

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A narrow escape…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 30, 2005

…where and I are lucky to be here.

Driving down the M4 to Reading in heavy traffic (and heavy rain) this morning my car was side-swiped by a Czech juggernaut that hadn’t seen me. The first I knew that he’d decided to pull out was the grinding noise as his protruding hub-cap removed the paint off the side of my car. That was the point where he realised I was there too, so luckily he swerved back into the inner lane. I managed to keep the car under control (there’s a lot of kinetic energy in a 42 tonne truck – even if it is a glancing blow), avoided being pushed into the outer lane, and slowly and carefully pulled into the hard shoulder.

Here’s where things got a little better. The truck pulled over too, so I didn’t have to worry about trying to track down the driver across the EU. The driver came over to me as I looked at the scrape down the side of my car, and in fractured English apologised and admitted he hadn’t seen me.

Ha! The one bit of good news in the whole thing, an admission of liability. Thankfully I had my camera with me, so I have pictures of the damage to my car, the truck that caused it, the driver of the truck, and his green card. The last is the most important, as it means I can get the repairs done without having to pay the excess.

M4 Scrape

My sad little car…

M4 Scrape

…and the hulking great lorry that swiped it…

Who needs Black Helicopters?

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 28, 2005

When you can have unmarked 737s to take you to Area 51?

Google Maps captures the terminal used for the commuter flights to Groom Lake from Las Vegas – with one of the famous 737s on the stand.

I can see my car from here!

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 28, 2005

Google has just released Google Earth, its tool for exploring and examining satellite imagery. Best thought of as a Picasa for satellite imagery, Earth replaces Keyhole.

You can fly around the globe, and then zoom in to the detailed satellite images. I’m pretty sure I can see my car parked just down the road from our house… And the basic version costs nothing. Well, nothing but your time!

Not as deep and educational as NASA’s World Wind, but quicker and a little bit more fun.

You will need a fast PC and a broadband connection to get the most out of this…

Oh agony of the waiting!

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 28, 2005

Steven Brust has finished Dzur.

Now for the wheels of the publishing industry to grind exceedingly slow…

Eureka!

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 28, 2005

The other day I was trying out a keyboard at a hardware demonstration. Instead of the traditional “Quick Brown Fox”, I tend to type the first couple of sentences of my main novel length WiP, The Ruins Of Breakfast. They’re words that sit in my head and keep escaping, so it’s well worth giving them some exercise from time to time.

This time, however, I put in a paragraph marker, and went on. And suddenly I realised what was missing from the story: a viewpoint character who wasn’t Anna. And then I knew who they were, and suddenly I found them pouring words onto the page.

Go me.

And go Anna’s imaginary friend, who just turned out to be The Associated Press, with its myriad eyes and ears. We’re going to have a lot of fun together as we surf the edges of the Singularity.

A fundamental difference in our fundamentalists

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 28, 2005

There’s an interesting dichotomy between the US and the rest of the world in the structure of its fundamentalist Christianity. The US evangelical church is at heart extremely conservative and tends to the right wing, while in the rest of the world the evangelical movement tends to be socially activist, and tends to the left wing.

The problems seem to come from the roots of modern US evangelism. The 19th and 20th revivalist movements that formed the basis of the US evangelical church was the product of a settled agrarian society, and so was socially inclined to extreme conservatism as a result of its roots. The great wide spaces of the prairie spawned the Bible Belt and the roots of the Christian Right.

Meanwhile in Europe, the great revival movements came out of the heart of the industrial and agricultural revolutions, and produced many of the minds that formed the basis of the Labour movement (take for example the role of the young Methodist Church in the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs). Elsewhere, evangelical churches have been spurred by social injustice in all its forms – in South Africa, across South America, and in the former Eastern Bloc.

And so there is a fundamental (ahem) difference in our fundamentalists…

[See the comments for a correction from . I think I need to read some more US history before pontificating again!]

I so need this on my car…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 28, 2005

Living in London, I hope I’m a reasonable and careful driver. However, there’s one thing I really really hate, after all these years as a driver. Even with power steering…

Parallel parking.

I live on a narrow street where most of the houses are flats (and we won’t even mention the two month-old hole in the road just outside the house!) – and even with the high costs of parking, there are more cars on the street than there are spaces. Which means one thing – I have to parallel park pretty much every time, and make sure that I get the car close in to the curb. Keeping an eye on everything that’s around me is a complicated thing…

…but now Nissan has solved the problem for me. Cameras all around the car are used to eliminate all the blind spots, and the resulting images are brought together and processed to form a overhead view of your car and surroundings. With it displayed using a monitor on your dashboard you can see in one place just how close you are to all the other cars around you…

Want now!

Hmm. I wonder if I could hack something together with the various old webcams in the house…

Get the Beeb on your iPod with no hassle…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 28, 2005

The latest version of iTunes, iTunes 4.9, has just come out with podcast support (for Mac and Windows).

Tie that in with the BBC’s MP3 RSS feeds and there’s something rather neat here…

Make money from ID cards…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 28, 2005

From The Independent.

Personal details of all 44 million adults living in Britain could be sold to private companies as part of government attempts to arrest spiralling costs for the new national identity card scheme, set to get the go-ahead this week.

The Independent on Sunday can today reveal that ministers have opened talks with private firms to pass on personal details of UK citizens for an initial cost of £750 each.

No comment necessary, I’m afraid…

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