Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Ten hours later... it's Snowpocalypse 2010 (v.2)

Well, isn't it horrifying what ten hours of cruddy weather'll do, eh?

This is what greeted me on glancing out the window at 1pm this afternoon, having hit the sack at 5.30am or so.

As you can see, (and probably have experienced for yourself if you live in the London area), we got blitzed by the snow again - it kept on dropping, like soft frozen bomblets, clogging up pretty-much everywhere it came into contact with.

Dunno what happened to the gritters, but I'm guessing that inbetween the times they have to go back and re-fill their spreading hoppers, and the time they managed to get out again, the snow turned from light and slightly wet, to heavy, and very wet. Not good.

It's gonna be an interesting trip to work later. yeah... 'interesting'.. that's the word, innit :-(

Just a light dusting, thus far...

OK, I was on late shift this evening, and having seen the forecasts, was wondering i I was going to make it home this evening - every forecast from doom and gloom to bright and sunny have been spread about with great glee by all and sundry over the last week, and truth be told, naff all has happened down here, aside from a rather huge drop in temperature. Well... that was, until this evening... Now, while we haven't got it as bad as they have up in the north of the country, if the weathermen are any judge, we're going to get a medium-sized dose of it before long...

Anyhow, the forecast they issued earlier for tonight was for six or so inches of snow down here by now (3am). I'm happy to report that they got it wrong :-)

Thus far, we've had a very light sprinkling; it's settling on the untreated roads, pavements, and a fair few roofs, but it would appear that the local councils have pulled their fingers out of their... um... ears... (...yeah, that's the bodily orifice they unblocked... their ears...!) and spread road salt about with wild abandon -as you can see from the photo, taken from my front room a few minutes ago. As you can see, the pavements have a light dusting, and the tarmac of the road is completely devoid of the white stuff.

As I said, on the untreated areas, it's settling, and given that it's now rather colder than it was earlier, I suspect it may be freezing in place now.

You can see the car park out the front of my block of flats, and there it is, that light dusting again...

I wonder if the postie'll do a repeat spot of break dance-inspired littering this time around...?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Soldiers' Rank and their Pensions - A worthy Parliamentary Early Day Motion.

I tend to bin these most of the time as generally, they cannot be verified. I've checked the ARRSE website however, and this appears genuine. Here's the link there for you to verify it for yourselves: http://www.arrse.co.uk/intelligence-cell/152968-power-arrse-required-pen-mightier-than-sword-scenario.html. It also appears in the Parliamentary Early Day Motion website, as follows: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=40685.

I feel so strongly about this, that in addition to forwarding it to several friends of mine, I've posted it here, too; frankly, the bean counters at MoD need something a tad stronger than a kick up the backside on this, and many other matters, but this is one of the few things we can do to support such a motion. Anyhow, I consider this Parliamentary Early Day Motion signature appeal to be a worthy cause, and recommend it to you all.

Sent: 24 November 2010 7:40 AM
To: Undisclosed-Recipient;
Subject: Soldiers' Rank and their Pensions

Dear All,

Sergeant Matthew Telford of the Grenadier Guards was promoted to that rank in June 2009.

In November of that same year, Sergeant Telford was one of 5 British soldiers killed when a rogue Afghan policeman opened fire on them.  His wife and family will only receive a Corporal's pension since he only held his rank of Sergeant for less than a year. However, he was killed on operations by the enemy whilst wearing three stripes of a Sergeant on active service.

Please sign the petition below to support a change in the rules that deny a hero’s widow the pension she deserves.

Copy/paste http://soldiers-pensions.co.uk/?q=petition

Please forward this on to any sympathetic contacts that you may have in your address book

Denise Edgar

National Trustee
The Royal British Legion
Home [deleted for privacy]
Mobile [deleted for privacy]

Monday, 22 November 2010


Heh, saw this on the first trip this morning...

It reads "Bored Suzuki driver: Warning: I wanted a Land Rover"!

Well, he may have wanted a better 4x4, but at least he's got a sense of humour!

Friday, 19 November 2010

...um... "Oops, Occifer Dribble?"

Well, there I was this morning, on the second trip of the day, a third full of passengers, having left the western stand, when, two minutes down-route, I'd just entered a roundabout, and a police car came screaming across, and blocked the exit I wanted, leaving me perched on the inside lane, between exits - not good. Luckily, I wasn't blocking the exit or entrance I was straddling with my bus, but ye gods, I can think of better ways to come to an abrupt halt!

Anyhow, it seems someone had done something stupid or careless just a couple of hundred metres up the road, and an "RTI", or Road Traffic Incident (not a collision, not an accident, an "incident", whatever that means), had then ensued.

Must have been serious, whatever is was, as the Traffic Bill and an Ambulance were there too.

So, it was "welcome to the mystery tour" for my passengers, as we eventually had to take an unscheduled diversion.

Thanks also to the controller on our iBus desk at the main depot, and some judicious use of a curtailment at one of the turning points nearer to the eastern end of the route, I managed to get back to the western end of the route only five or so minutes late for my meal relief, which was nice :-)

I've still got no idea what the heck happened at the RTI, as passing it a couple of hours later on the way back showed a completely clean scene, devoid of the usual detritus and debris associated with most road messing muck-ups.

So, not good for someone in the ambulance, but I guess we'll hear all about it in the local papers next week.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Linux Lumps...

I've been thinking about moving from Windows XP to a Linux distribution for a while now; I don't really want to have to pay Microsoft oodles of hard earned just to operate a computer anymore, and the Open Source movement is gathering quite a bit of pace - just look at Android phones, for example: That operating system is based on Linux (an open source, and therefore free, operating system), after all.

Anyhow, I did a bit of homework (don't tell my old school teachers, they'd probably die of shock!), and decided to see what all the hype was about; I therefore downloaded both the latest ISO release of Ubuntu, version 10.10 (or "distribution", as they call versions), and the recommended Infra Recorder that would burn the ISO image to the CD ROM. And that's where the problems began, of course.

While it reported that it had successfully burnt the ISO to the disc in the CD/RW drive, in fact, it had not. In fact, nothing meaningful made it to the blasted disc: it was unreadable. Shrugging, I put that down to a four-year-old CD/RW drive that was probably knackered. So I proceeded to try to make a bootable USB Pen Drive version, instead. That, at least, copied across OK using the recommended Universal USB installer, but, you guessed it, I got an error message, instead, when I tried to boot off the resulting USB pen drive:

No DEFAULT or UI configuration directive found

So, I guessed that it was a problem with the most recent distribution, went back and downloaded distribution 10.04.1 (the previous version), and repeated the Pen Drive process. Same result, and the very same error message.

By now, this was, as you might imagine for a neophyte 46 year old non-technical twit, beginning to grate just a tad (read: steam slowly building from the ears), so I had a look on the Ubuntu help forums, and found to my dismay that there may be problems with the Universal USB installer on recent distributions. Luckily, an alternative package was suggested, Unetbootin, to create the bootable USB pen drive, so I downloaded that as well...

Yep, you can see where this is going, can't you?

I repeated the process using Unetbootin, and got the self same bloody error message. Confused and frustrated? You bet I was. Still am, in fact. Read on.

I could only assume that something had gone a tad, shall we say, fubar, in creating the bootable bits on my machine. Question was, how the heck could this be fixed?

Well, there being no such thing as a stupid question (I was taught this in the T.A., so it must be right!) I asked. And lo and behold, within half an hour, I was recomended to another page on the ubuntu site, describing how to create a bootable USB pen drive, and, well, you guessed it. Stuffed again.

I extracted the file usb-creator.exe from the USB pen drive, which was at least, readable, if not bootable. That went well enough.

I tried the process suggested in the article, but again, fell at the first hurdle, in that usb-creator.exe was not allowing either ISO selection I downloaded. It's recognising the pen drive, but not the ISOs.

By now, I'd spent an entire morning on the damn thing, and frankly, I've just about had it up to here (waving at a point just above my head). I'm going to try again, once the folks on the forum have had a chance to get back to me with any more suggestions, but from the current showing, I'm either destined to pay macroshaft more sodding money, or launch the entire kit and kaboodle out the blasted window (which given the name of the current OS, is kind of ironic).

More later, once I've calmed down a tad.