Writing ... or Just Practicing?

Random Disconnected Diatribes of a p&p Documentation Engineer

  • Blog Post: Idempotent Photographical Categorization

    It's been many years since I switched from film to digital by selling my old Pentax SLR, extensive selection of quality lenses, and bag full of assorted attachments at some ludicrously low price. Since then my photographic arsenal has included several Olympus digicams. Yet I still haven't got the knack...
  • Blog Post: We're All Professional Publishing House Operatives Now

    OK, yes, I was tempted to find a title based on Slade's famous hit song Mama Weer All Crazee Now but finally caved in to the demands of the Word spelling checker. Not that this has anything at all to do with the topic of this week's ramble, which is about how home publishing has changed. I occasionally...
  • Blog Post: Clock This Writer

    It's easy to imagine that the computer is a recent invention. A search of the web reveals a host of machines claiming to be the first electronic computer, and all are mid-20th century. However, what's harder to determine is the first appearance of a truly programmable computer. After watching a fascinating...
  • Blog Post: Touch, But Don't Look

    So my Windows 8 adventure has been terminated after only a brief foray into the delights of the new O/S. It's annual review time here an Microsoft, which means I need to connect to the corporate network. But my Windows 8 machine can't do that because the TPM module is faulty, and I need to have BitLocker...
  • Blog Post: Wot? No Webcam? And No Rock Music Either...

    So this week we had another digital failure in our household. At least I'm happy about the fact it was much less embarrassing than some other technical discrepancies that seem to have befallen the worlds of science and engineering recently. The rather expensive Soundbridge Internet radio I purchased...
  • Blog Post: Taming Microsoft Media Center

    So I'm still fighting to keep Media Center as the main TV system here at chez Derbyshire, despite the veritable aggro it seems to spew out at regular intervals. On top of the increasing vagueness of the program categorization in the guide (it seems to think that "The Only Way Is Essex" is a documentary...
  • Blog Post: You've Got To Pick A Tablet Or Two

    So we've gone from a tabletless state to a twin fondleslab-equipped household in a little under two weeks. My wife no longer has to squint at Facebook pages containing 4 point text on a tiny smartphone screen, and I don't have to wait for Windows to get started on my "downstairs laptop" when I want to...
  • Blog Post: Hey, You, Get Offa My Pictures Folder!

    It's amazing how often you get the feeling with computers that someone has virtually trampled on your toes, or unceremoniously shoved you out of the way. The latest Patch Wednesday updates (here in England, patch Tuesday usually catches up with us on Wednesday) seemed to coincide with a driver update...
  • Blog Post: Passing In The Night (and Day)

    I love those scenes in nature documentaries where they deploy a remote camera, and the local wildlife takes an interest in it so you get wonderful close-up shots of inquisitive animals. A while ago my wife persuaded me that we should get one to use in the small copse of trees next to our house. There’s...
  • Blog Post: Is Digital Analogous to Analogue?

    It seems that, contrary to expectations, the few remaining record stores still selling old-fashioned vinyl LPs and singles are flourishing here in England. At first you might think this is only because old codgers like me just have an old record player, and we spend our days looking for rare copies of...
  • Blog Post: A Busman's Holiday, or Just a Hard Drive?

    They say that plumbers typically have leaky pipes in their own house, and that the wives of painters and decorators all complain their own house could do with a lick of paint. When you do one kind of job all week, the last thing you want to do at weekends is the same job. Here in England it's what they...
  • Blog Post: Not So Shiny

    A long-standing target for comedians is the comb-over hairstyle that footballer Bobby Charlton made famous. This week, however, I had a Chrome-over and it definitely wasn't funny at all. Though while we're talking about comedians (and before I fall back into my default diatribe mode) I ought to mention...
  • Blog Post: A Bluetooth Headset on Wheels

    While my car was in the dealer's workshop having its annual checkup last week I did the usual nerdy thing of sneaking into the showroom to play with the toys in the new models. OK, so my car has some nifty electronics built in, including satnav with traffic updates and a connection for my phone. But...
  • Blog Post: Planet Earth Recorded

    This week marked the start of a much hyped new BBC TV series called Planet Earth Live. Of course, being nature lovers, we had to tune in. Let's face it, who could fail to be tempted by a program that promises to reveal the intimate lives of wild animals, and is presented by two of our most lovable TV...
  • Blog Post: Prequally Empirical Numeric Confusion

    Our son went to the cinema this week to see Star Wars Part 1 in 3D, and I was tempted to go with him. I can remember seeing the original Star Wars movie when it was released in 1977, and I thought it would be fun to see it again. Except that it seems I'm out of touch with the way movies work these days...
  • Blog Post: My Guide's Got Duff GUIDs

    It started with Windows XP Media Center Edition, continued through Windows Vista Home Premium Edition, and now extends into Windows 7 Ultimate Edition. Are we sadomasochists, or is the pain of keeping our glorious multi-media, big screen experience worth it? Do I really need another computer in the house...
  • Blog Post: Documentary Evidence

    You'd think that, with only a couple of different letters, "documentary" and "documentation" were reasonably similar things. But it seems that the makers of TV documentaries have different ideas. It's all a bit like the music of my generation - prog rock. There's plenty of hidden (and often indecipherable...
  • Blog Post: Gone OOF the Radar

    As I very rarely actually go anywhere, and even more rarely by train, I'm not an expert on the current digital device habits of rail travelers. However, the attraction of a nice comfy seat and table in some wonderful air-conditioned, piped music for free, even has a power socket railway carriage is that...
  • Blog Post: They Promised Us the World (in HD)

    I suppose it isn't easy switching a whole country over from old-fashioned analogue TV to the wondrous delights of multi-channel digital, but here in Britain it's hard to see how they could have made more of a pigs-ear of it. Not only is it taking five years, but they seem to be doing it as an unpredictable...
  • Blog Post: Invoking the Dark Side (using a cassette player)

    I previously thought that the reason you used to see miles of cassette taped entwined in the bushes at the side of motorways was because the driver discovered that his or her Mother had accidently put a "James Last Plays Christmas Carols" tape back in the driver's Black Sabbath or Pink Floyd cassette...
  • Blog Post: Photographic Forgetfulness

    It's interesting (at least, I think so) how the issues we face here at p&p in creating useful and practical guidance are almost exactly mirrored in other industries and technologies. OK, so the world is becoming more complicated, as are all the increasingly sophisticated gadgets that it seems we...
  • Blog Post: Why Doesn't Stuff Go Bang Any More?

    We had one of those disastrous spells here at chez Derbyshire a couple of weeks back. It started with trying to switch our mobile phone contracts from one supplier to another, and ended with what seems like half of the hi-tech equipment in our house deciding it had, with disappointing lack of excitement...
  • Blog Post: On Cloud Ten

    Two thousand and ten is, they say, the year of the Cloud. Yes, I know they've been saying that for a few years, but it really does seem to be a technology that is heading skywards (ouch, sorry) this year. And I'm about to climb on board. Though, hopefully, not equipped with pan pipes or tendering my...
  • Blog Post: The Soundtrack for Our Lives

    Watching a rock music documentary on TV the other day, I heard one of my favorite presenters, Mark Radcliffe, utter the wonderful phrase "Lead guitarists are people who create the soundtrack for our lives". Maybe you have to be of the right generation (it's probably less relevant if your music tastes...
  • Blog Post: Firing Up The Imagination

    Ever since we moved into this house some ten years ago, my wife has irregularly reminded me that she hates the rather cheap and nasty, imitation coal effect, fan driven, generates hardly any warmth, gas fire that the builders installed. Besides which, since we put a flat screen TV above it, we can't...
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