Saturday, December 31, 2005

Compliments of the season...

...and a very Happy New Year to both of my readers.

It has been a bit crazy these last couple of weeks with another RSL, very busy at work and fighting off a cold (now at the tail end of a nasty bout of Tonsilitus and double ear infection).

My last antibiotics tomorrow, I might enjoy a glass of port on Monday!

Following on the theme opf the last thread, blokes who micturate "hands-free"...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Things that get on my Pecs...

Every now and again, the selfishness and stupidity of of peoples actions remind me that I should make a list. They are generally minor things but they will make me briefly bristle.

Here are a few of them, feel free to add others in the comments section.

People who.....

-Throw cigarette dimps out of the car window when driving, especially at night

-Finish packing their shopping away before getting their money out to pay

-think that parking bays are advisory

-leave their mobiles (with tedious ring tones) on their desks

-answer the phone with "hello?"

-have a voice mail message dated days (or even weeks) ago

-assume that if there is more than one "To:" address on an email they don't need to action it

-never bother to acknowlege any form of message so you don't know if they got it or not

-think that I would want prescriptions, penis enlargement or to help them get a large sum of money out of Nigeria

-think that I'm stupid enough to worry that a Bank I don't bank with would need me to confirm my account details.

Monday, December 12, 2005

City Challenge

Every now and again, when I'm having a sort-out, I come across some photos and a report for a very memorable residential course I went on in the late 70s when I was still a student.

It was run by the Outward Bound Trust but it didn't tax your muscles with hiking & trekking, instead it taxed your mind with social situations. The course lasted a couple of weeks and we spent a few days doing different things in the community. Our first stint in our group was in a geriatric hospital where most people were bed-ridden and many had also lost the will to live as well. The second stint was in an acute Ward of a Mental Hospital. We also spent time with the Salvation Army hostel, doing household jobs for the housebound with Social services and also a few unusual social events, including a Disco with the Mental patients and clearing up derelict common ground. I was also surprised to find that a garage-like structure I passed every day was a shelter for the particularly destitute in Coventry.

During the course I saw many things that upset me and made me think. One was a blatently racially motivated punishment by a rather twisted senior nurse. Another was the indifference of many of the care workers to their "customers". A third was the utter futility of getting old when the body is clapped out, too old to rock & Roll, too young to die.

During the course, I also made some long lasting friends, many of them Girls, but I also earned the respect of a couple of Borstal lads. I received special praise for loaning my Disco to the course after the first week (it was held in a residential school over the Summer), & also got into a bit of a kerfuffle by taking the flirting of one of the tutors the wrong way. (I was young and impressionable, not realising she was what in impolite circles gets called a teaser, and not of firecats!)

I revisited the geriatric hospital as a volunteer for a couple of days that Summer and quickly realised that what I had gained the most was the shared experience with the staff and course members rather than the actual relating to the people which proved very difficult. I also found out that the hospital was a 2 mile walk to the bus so rain stopped play on day three! One of the Girls lived in Cheltenham and she had also been motivated to get involved, she was a visitor at a half-way house which she took me to on one occasion. It was a very happy place & she had certainly made a difference to their lives.

I did think that later in life I would have liked to participate in City Challenge again, this time as a tutor. However, it seems that City Challenge folded a number of years ago, although Outward Bound itself continues to flourish.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Broadcasting to the

Morley FM goes live again on Tuesday and I'm heavily involved of course with all sorts of challenges to sort out. The biggest one has actually been IT. Rather than rent a phone line and get broadband for something that would only be used a few weeks a year, instead our helpful landlord offered us connectivity via the school phone system and internet access via their network (so that we could stream to the world).

Unfortunately, their phone system is IP based, i.e. it is modern & high tech but we can't plug it into our studio kit which is designed to interface to regular lines. They have given us an IP phone but the power supply hasn't turned up yet so it isn't working at the moment, indeed we don't even know what phone number it will be as the wheels of education grind slowly...

The interface problem we resolved by obtaining a device called an ATA- it is what you use when you want to put a Fax on a hi-tech system. Unfortunately, however, it does need one of four software builds on it & it seems to be straining the capabilities of the support team to know what to do to get it working, especially as we bought it on eBay rather than purchased through the normal channels. We know it works on the phone side as we can get it to speak its IP address through the studio mixer. Unfortunately, however, that doesn't suit the presenter who wants to play "two word Tango" with listeners, as "IP" and "press square to exit" don't quite cut the mustard for entertainment value.

As for the streaming & internet, the streaming works when it shouldn't do, but only for a few minutes at a time. Our PCs can see the various network devices (via pings, a very Pythonesque name for a network test)but can't see through the proxy unless they are part of the school domain. (Doesn't IT sound like a mixture of elections and fantasy war games?) But, to be in the domain, the machines must have XP Pro and our account password hasn't come through anyway. Maybe we should have just rented that phone line with Broadband.

We also found out that our transmitter wasn't legal, as it isn't CE marked. Well, actually, it is, but only the power brick. It seems that Veronica never got round to CE emissions approval & have been flogging transmitters to Pirates (& proper access radio stations) without OfCom wising up. Methinks it is the upsurge of pirates in London that have caused OfCom to get heavy.

Now that they have, it isn't worth while for Veronica to submit the no-doubt extensive & costly approval paperwork for a niche product, so they now simply sell them outside of Europe. It seems that one of their biggest Customers overseas is the British Forces who use them in Afganistan and Iraq.

Kafka would have been proud...