Friday, 29 February 2008

OK... some general comment regarding paperwork and Living History Group Re-Enactors, and a request...

In the Living History group that I'm a member of, I've been accused of being somewhat obsessed with paperwork. I admit it, I'm guilty as charged, etc etc etc Get over it

Seriously, there WILL be those, at some time or another, who will come up to us at an event, and ask us it we've got such-and-such a piece of documentation. Now, while it's not something that the run-of-the-mill members of the public will be likely to ask, it's eminently plausible and possible that former soldiers (indeed, currently serving as well!) might ask this; the Army didn't just march on its' stomach, it's kit, or even its' weapons: The Mickey Mouse Factor was always at work, and any good squaddie'll tell you that one appropriately presented and properly-completed form will solve a multitude problems (and insults) from an SNCO who likes nothing more than eating soldiers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Therein lies the problem for us Document Fabricators (as I like to call those of us who enjoy this aspect of the hobby - and please don't call me a dodgy f****** - I know I'm one of those already ). Not all the original documents are either easy to find, or even available; when new forms are published in the military, the old ones are normally scrapped by slinging them in the shredder, bin, or burn-bags. So. I have a simple request for all of you ex-military types out there: Go through your kit, and if you've any old Army forms from the 1970s and 1980s, hang onto them, and LET ME KNOW!

For my part, I'll undertake to, as soon as practicably, reproduce them in PDF format for general release, with a comment on the final repro copy as to the source of the original document - how's that?

Thanks in advance!

Sunday, 24 February 2008

How To Behave on an Internet Forum - video

Found this through one of the forums I'm a member of... made me laugh my backside off - hope you like it too :)

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Three posts in 24 hours! Well, why not :)

This time, it's on music. Specifically, music I like

I'm into classical music, as are quite a few other people. This said, I'll listen to most music (not rap, and numerous other strange stuff that masquerades as music) if it grabs my ears in a nice way.

One of my major likes are good Movie theme tracks. I recently found an excellent site devoted to them, too - Streaming Sound Tracks; it runs several streams of music formats, from Ogg to MP3 (see the site for more information), but here's a hint: Get a copy of WinAmp, if you don't already have one!

An example of the variety of music on offer from the several THOUSAND albums available to request...

Pan's Labyrinth
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith
The Best Of LucasArts, The
X TV OST, Vol. 1
Alvin And The Chipmunks
Back To The Future Part III
League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The
Independence Day
Dark Blue Almost Black
Homeward Bound
Final Fantasy, The Spirits Within
Mrs. Doubtfire
The Untouchables
Dracula Battle II Perfect Selection
Radio Flyer
Star Trek 8, First Contact

And that's just the playlist to be played over the next hour as I write this! Now, note that that's not just movie soundtracks, there are some of the better tracks from recent computer games (for example, recent 3-d 'role playing games' of the kind where a music CD is supplied with the game for background music), as well as some of the better-scored television series out there; all genres appear to be catered for, so it's well worth having a good look

There are even links to let you buy the albums in the vast majority of cases!

Oh, and no, I don't work for them, or got any form of payment for this review - it just so happens that I like the stuff they put out, and think you might too


Friday, 22 February 2008

And folks wondered why I delayed so long in upgrading to XP...

OK, in a better frame of mind now than earlier (see the blog entry below), I now notice another SNAFU has finally been mentioned by those folks in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

Yup. Microsoft's admitted it kills security apps from 3rd parties.

NOW can some of you see why I delayed upgrading from Win2K to WinXP?

My next upgrade will probably be to a Unix, Linux, or similar operating system. At least then I (probably) won't have to put up with those unmitigated macroshaft (the opposite of Micro, and well, we all know how cash-hungry they are!) screwups.

And it'll be free to obtain (well, unless I get a commercial distribution, like Redhat or similar). And, by the time it comes to upgrading this machine again, heck, most of the apps I use will probably have been ported to Unix (or similar) anyhow, so whoopee for me at that time

So, guys, what to you want to break today?

Which country do these lawyers think they owe allegiance to?!

The BBC headline is "Claim UK troops 'executed' Iraqis"...

Here're my comments on it. WHY did they take so much time in coming forward to a UK solicitor to make a claim against the UK? Possibly because it's been a while since the last "scandal"?

This crap makes me sick. As to the lawyers over here who are actually taking this to court, they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Just what country do they owe their allegiance to? Iraq or Great Britain?

If I say anything more on this, I'll use rude words. Nuff said.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Just another pin-cushion, me...

I suppose I should have posted this yesterday, but it didn't occur to me until now that other may be in the same boat as I am.

I had my first out-patients visit to my local hospital yesterday; in the case, visit No 1 to the Cardiac Care Nurse. I was weighed, measured, ECG'd, and finally, she wanted to take some blood. And that's when the problems started.

I wasn't really in much condition to notice if they had problems putting needles into my arms when I was admitted to King's College Hospital just over a month back, but I was certainly able to notice this time. No joy on left crook of arm on either side. Two tries both arms. No joy with a "butterfly" needle on the top of my hands, either. She gave up (probably in disgust), and sent me to the Blood Test unit, with a fake cheery "don't worry, they do this all the time, they'll be able to draw your blood".

Oh joy.

So, I arrive at the blood tests unit, take a number (23, they're serving up No 8 to the Count, I assume), and wait. Before long, I'm called in, and lo and behold, the Nurse there takes one look, and says:

"Did the other nurse have trouble finding a vein?"

Talk about Masters (sorry, Mistresses) of the bleedin' (sic) obvious!

To cut a long story short, another Butterfly needle was obtained, and mid-way down my right forearm, she found a suitable vein. I was past caring, had closed my eyes, and wasn't looking. I've never liked needles, and this was only reinforcing my opinion as to why I don't like them.

The good news?

If I'm ever bitten by a vampire, they're gonna have just as bloody difficult a job of getting at my blood as the NHS!

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Time for yet more terminal boredom...

Well, there was me, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, nine in the morning, at my Doctors' on Friday morning just gone, fully expecting to be sent back to work on light duties, and THUMP. Down to earth again.

He's still none too happy with either my post-heart-attack blood pressure ("still a bit too high") or the timing of my heart beat ("still a bit too fast").

So, straight to the depot with the bad news. The Allocations Officer there (the guy who assigns drivers to route rotas, and so on and so forth), looked like he'd swallowed a lemon. Whole.

"ANOTHER month?"
"Yep. Another. Doctors' Orders. Sorry, mate"
"Awright, go away!"

Excuse me for having a heart attack, Sam!

Then, I had to have another chat with the Depot boss, the Operations Manager. He was a mite more understanding. Well, his secretary was, anyhow - the boss was in a meeting!

Oh, and the reason for this Blant being a couple of days late? My PC was being upgraded by a mate. I know bog-all about these things, it seems, and he didn't want my ham-fisted fingers (huh?) messing everything up. So, I now have a machine that runs a genuine, certified, fully operational copy of MS XP Professional SP 2, with a replacement graphics card, a third IDE hard drive (250Gb), and a new shelf life of probably two years, until something better comes along. Cheers, mate

The way this is going, it won't be a sick note for a heart attack I'll be renewing, it'll be a sick note from going nuts from climbing the walls from complete and terminal boredom!

Speaking of boredom, so as to avoid it when left to my own devices by my better half, I got into re-enacting about half-way through last year (six months BHA, or Before Heart Attack). Re-enacting, in this case, being a living history group set up to help keep the British cold war armed forces alive in the memory. For my part, once fully recovered from my ticker attack, I'll be showing the Royal Military Police of the mid-1980s (my old T.A. Corps, no less, even if I was in there in the 1990s, not the 1980s). Anyway, it was mentioned on their forums that they'd be visiting the Firepower Museum (primarily set up to show off the Royal Artillery) in Woolwich this weekend (part of the museums Historic Vehicle display - this from an Artillery Museum!), and like a mug, I said that while I'd not be "in kit", I'd visit them there to say "Hi".

So, on a very bright and bloody cold Sunday morning (parking being a lot cheaper on Sundays in most places), I made my way to parts saarf lunnon, and attended said display. I even managed to find a free parking place in the road outside the museum - not bad, that! Remarkably, for a museum visit (recent visits to the museums in central London have been rather disappointing), I had a very enjoyable day - not just oggling the big boys' toys (well, there was some of that, of course - OI! The Artillery Pieces, you dirty-minded wotsit!)), but having a pleasantly good chat with the lads from the team as well!

The photo montage below is the static display they put on, showing the various amounts of kit and weaponry that a Falklands War era soldier would have to carry. Not too dissimilar to the load I was expected to carry as a Military Policeman in full kit in the field, the load-out weighs upwards of 80 pounds; add in my portion of the additional section machine gun ammunition, and you can look at over 100 pounds of kit weaponry, and munitions of one form or another. I'm led to believe that currently serving soldiers have to carry something like 20 more pounds of gear than I had to.

Stag On, as we used to say in the Territorial Army!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Death By Chocolate...

As you know, I had a heart attack a month or so ago. As a result, I've had to pack in the smoking (no great loss there), reduce the caffeine intake (ok, I follow the reasoning, caffeine's a stimulant, and my heart needs to have a chance to recover before I add more stimulants), and reduce the saturated fat intake. Well, I never was much one for fat on food, being a little like Jack Sprat in that regard.


I now discover, to my abject horror, that chocolate, in all its' forms, is heavily (and I do mean heavily) laden with saturated fats. Even dark chocolate.

For pities' sake!

It's bad enough that I'm going through nicotine withdrawal and caffeine withdrawal, without these damn dieticians adding my favourite comfort food of them all to the banned list as well !

So, I started looking for low-fat chocolate.

No such animal exists.

Even Diabetic Chocolate is merely low on sugars, not fats.

This is plainly a case of chocolate manufacturers making their products for the mass market, not for the niché market; now, I can follow their thinking here, as it's cheaper (and therefore more profitable) to make their products for most folks, not just all.

Never the less, in these days of body-image-concious folks, dieticians, and so on, surely, someone, somewhere, has come up with a *bleep* low *bleep* fat *bleep* chocolate bar that's say, lower than *bleep* 10% *bleep* Saturated *bleep* Fat?

'Scuse the *bleep*. I'm suffering acute chocolack



Friday, 8 February 2008

So, now RIAA wants to put spyware on your PC - and you won't have a choice?!

They have got to be bloody kidding. Read this...

Now, if Mr Cary Sherman wants to do this on MY machine, he may wait until a negative thermal reaction affects the place that he who must not be named inhabits. In other words, there is no way in hell that he may do this on my machine, not until hell freezes over, and even then, most likely not.

Has this complete fool (I'd like to use stronger words, but they're not allowed here!) lost his bloody mind? Can you, Mr Sherman, say Personal Privacy. Can you say illegal Surveillance? Can you can Computer Misuse Act?

Try it, pal. Please. I'll do my best to have the Police at your front door so fast it'll feel like a barbed wire enema.

Ye gods, the RIAA are so bloody stupid it's almost beyond comprehension sometimes.

After all the public revelations regarding identity theft, personally identifiable information leaks, and so on and so forth regarding personal computer security, RIAA comes along and says "hi there. We're just gonna put this spyware on your system. Have a nice day" and they think we're going to allow it?

Let's be perfectly frank. Downloading stuff you haven't paid for is, of course, illegal, and rightly it's called theft for a reason. Never the less, RIAA have this oddly insane way of going after the WRONG targets. They go after the EASY targets, the individuals, the brats and such, when in reality, they should be going after the organised criminals, the triads, mafioski, drug tzars, and so on. Of course, that's be a decidedly dangerous change in tactics for RIAA. Might even get then targeted for being shot a few zillion times, as copyright theft is rather profitable to those folks. It's a source of income to them, after all.

So here's a thought, Mr Sherman. Take your latest idea, and stick it where the sun doesn't shine. Go after the REAL criminals instead.

I tell you, whatever RIAA're smoking, I wouldn't mind a drag or three!*

* Before I notify the DEA in the USA about their odd smoking habits, that is!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Talking CCTV. Oh dear, more noise pollution.

So, Barking & Dagenham Council have gone a step further in its' fight against Anti-Social Behaviour, and installed "Talking CCTV" (BBC tv video clip link).

Now, councils fund their various initiatives from a budget that funds everything the council does. So how many school crossing people, libraries, or even hospital staff, have been either sacked or had their wages cut by this frankly completely stupid idea of a talking CCTV unit?

A sudden thought occurs at this time: One wonders how long it'll be before someone puts in a private prosecution for Noise Pollution against the Council for keeping them awake at night when the Council is yelling "OI! Don't even thing of peeing on the lamp-stand!" at chavs in the hight street after closing time?

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

A Political Rant this time (well, aren't they all?) - A little rant on Utility Companies, unions, and asset stripping...

OK, this may not be good news for large house owners, but for the small bloke like me it's a helping hand...

It seems the new round of water bills are gonna be based on home size (i.e., how many bedrooms you have, not what zone your home falls into.

About bleedin' time, Thames Water!

Congratulations for finally seeing a little common sense!

Now, if the electricity companies can do something similar, maybe, just maybe, London will start to be a little more affordable for lower paid workers!

Bleedin' eck. (sits down on soap box) I'm doin' a Dennis Leary (remember "No Cure For Cancer"?) What the heck next? A red armband with a hammer and sickle?! No bleedin' chance!

Still, it's a valid point regarding Utility Companies and their bills.

British Gas (or whatever you wanna call them, BG, or Bleedin' Greedy, maybe?) have recently upped their rates. LEB/SEBoard et all, even British Telecom (despite the fancy packaging) are all more expensive one way or another.

What is it about these companies with Captive markets? Even switching to another firm for the same product usually involved a certain level of grief in switching, then after a while, the honeymoon dies off, and they up their bills (same old same old, in other words). What, they think we're fik or sommat? (note spelling!)

I gotta say it, I'm getting the right old heave ho with the lot of them.

Who else thinks that Maggie, with the benefit of hindsight, actually had it wrong when she sold off the PUBLIC Utility Companies?

Now, I'm a Union man. I'm proud of that. I've been in two others before the T&GWU (now a division of Unite), so no surprises there. Not only, by the way, do they stand up for the individual as a collective group, they also offer all manner of benefits to their members, and that's a good thing! However, and going back to Maggie...

WITH the benefit of hindsight, and knowing now how much she despised the Union movement, how she wanted (and succeeded, unfortunately) in breaking the Union Movement to a large degree, how much do you think the selling off of the Public Utilities was to do with Union breaking as opposed to asset striping (as its' now called)?

The point is, though, these companies have shareholders they have to pay off - I mean give dividends to - instead of ploughing all the profits back into either reducing end-user costs, or making the business better, if not both.

Once again, Capitalism entered what should have remained a Public Service.

We've seen it now with the Utilities, the Railways, Buses, and soon, I suspect, the NHS.

What is it with these recent governments? have they no bloody idea how difficult it is to make a living these days?

Or are they content with sitting in their ivory towers (well, Parliament, anyhow), and remaining one step removed from reality as they pass more useless laws (where existing laws would be perfectly good enough if they were upheld properly)?

You got me, cause I haven't got a clue.

Answers on the back of a postage stamp, please.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

British Rail Sandwiches make a comeback?

I spotted this outside one of those 'mini French stick build to order' style places today; just glancing about while doing a little shopping (and getting my required daily walking exercise in, of course).

Now, I'll admit right from the go that I only glanced at it as I ambled past in the shopping centre, and didn't really pay much attention to it.

Until five paces later when my subconscious brain caught up and yelled "OI!" to my conscious brain. The conversation went a little like this:

SubConsciousBrain: "OI! Hold up!"
ConsciousBrain: "What?"
SCB: "Did you see what that sign said?"
CB: "What sign?"
SCB: "The sandwichy place sign"
CB: "No. Why? Also, did you just tell Legs to stop?"
SCB: "Yes. To stop us tripping over Feet. The sign said 'artesian bread' - you really didn't notice?"
CB: "Ah, right, makes sense. No, I didn't notice. Why, what's so special about soggy bread? Hang on. I withdraw the question. FEET! Get us back there!"

And thus I found myself in front of the shop again. Yep: I'd misread it.

Although there may indeed be a market for bread dredged up from subterranean wells, this isn't a shop that sells such a soggy substance... probably just as well, as the era of British Rail Sandwiches is well and truly over... isn't it?

If not, name and shame the soggy sandwich shops here as a warning to others!