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October 31, 2010

The T Word

Refuse to be terrorised.

A criminal does not become a terrorist because of which country they came from, because they choose to attack aeroplanes, because they are religiously or politically motivated or because they use bombs.  They become a terrorist because we respond with fear and define them as such.  Well, we can choose not to do that.

Everyone should remember that the perpetrators of the recent cargo plane bombing, the Times Square bombing, the underpants bombing, the liquid bomb plots, the 2007 London and Glasgow attacks and countless others (at least in the "Western world") did not succeed.

May 22, 2010

Drilling for Oil

I find it somehow disturbing that we are able to drill a hole into our planet and make it "bleed", and in such a way that it's so hard to do anything about it.

In fact, come to think of it, the whole idea of drilling a hole that deep, under so much water, is pretty incredible.  I've never really thought about it before.

April 4, 2010

Expat Financial Scams

A somewhat eye-opening experience last week.

I had a phone call from a company offering "independent" financial advice regarding offshore savings and pensions - to "make the most" of my residence abroad.  The company in question will not be mentioned on here, but there is plenty of information about their dodgy business methods and even their recruiting strategies available on the web.  To cut a long story short:   It's nothing more than a scam: their representatives are usually not qualified financial advisors, but simply salespeople who will subject you to high-pressure sales tactics in the hope of getting their (huge, up-front) commission which is taken from your contributions, and can be as much as your whole first year's worth of payments.

While the underlying products they may advertise may be basically sound, they tend to be very expensive and unsuitable for people in my kind of situation. The worst thing, however, is that they often use restrictive contract terms which lock you in to paying huge fees which negate any potential tax benefits.

It seems like there's quite a lot of this kind of thing going around.  Needless to say, I know where I'll tell any other financial "advisors" who call me to go...

Most readers probably think they're far too clever to fall for such a thing, but I've now experienced first-hand how powerful the illusion is and how easy it can be to fall under the spell, and it's very scary.  Beware.

As ever, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is..!

February 25, 2010

OpenStreetMap's Role in Haiti

This is very cool.  Volunteer contributors used satellite imagery, which was made available especially, to create detailed maps of Haiti which the aid workers used to help find their way.

November 20, 2009

Comments Enabled

Due to popular demand, I've enabled comments and trackbacks here.  Please don't all spam me at once... :)

October 21, 2009

Mains Adaptors

I brought some UK-style multiblock extension leads over from the UK, and replaced the plugs with continental European plugs bought for €0.99 shortly after I arrived here.

There are no words which adequately describe how superior the resulting devices are compared to those one-piece plastic adaptor things you buy at the airport.

August 14, 2009


I've recently discovered the Mutopia Project, which is about producing Free (mostly Creative Commons) sheet music, mostly typeset using the LilyPond software, which I've also only just discovered.

One of my favourites is the 16th Fugue from Das Wohltemperierte Clavier (The Well-Tempered Piano) by Bach.  One of the first sounds I ever heard coming out of a computer was this, played by a program called Maestro using a fairly hideously synthesised sound effect on an Acorn A3000 in about 1990.

There is also the Passacaglia, which the attentive reader of this site will recognise.  Not that there are any.

It almost makes me want to take up music again (playing it, that is).  But on my own terms, rather than following a strict grading scheme.  It's the difference between doing something because you want to, and doing it because your teacher told you to.

July 7, 2009

Handy Household Hint

Use those liquid washing tablet things, rather than powder, when washing your "Washable Suit".  Otherwise, the powder crystallises to give a white, dusty appearance that's hard to get rid of.

I imagine that's what you want for more normal clothes, so that the fluorescence stuff can work, but it's definitely not what you want for a suit...

June 6, 2009

Jenga Pistol

I'm still here, I've just been busy with thesis. For the time being, enjoy this video which I came across just now.

April 14, 2009

More Chapman Stick

This is the same performer as in my previous entry, Guillermo Cides, using the same realtime looping technique as before. I liked the tune, and the way it doesn't really finish.  It's like an Escher drawing in music...