Writing ... or Just Practicing?

Random Disconnected Diatribes of a p&p Documentation Engineer

  • Blog Post: Six Buttons and a Volume Knob

    Probably there's not many people who can remember when TVs had just six buttons and a volume knob. You simply tuned each of the buttons to one of the five available channels (which were helpfully numbered 1 to 5), hopefully in the correct order so you knew which channel you were watching, and tuned the...
  • Blog Post: Snakin' All Over

    My new pet snake is installed, working, and really flies. Deathly silent, yet it instantly responds to every command. It's like somebody speeded up the world. Or at least speeded up my television. And, yes, this is a follow-on from last week's rambling post about our new "Mamba" Media Center box from...
  • Blog Post: Papa Loves Mamba

    Media Center is alive and well! Yes, you can buy a proper no-noise Media Center appliance that just works out of the box, does satellite and terrestrial TV, and looks good on your TV stand. You can even watch the YouTube video on it that inspired the title of this week's rambling post. Our current...
  • Blog Post: The Internet Of Letterboxes

    It's currently fashionable here in England to castigate large companies for not voluntarily paying more tax that they are legally obliged to do. Amongst the so-called offenders is Amazon, who have grown a huge order management, warehousing, and distribution network throughout the UK. Probably because...
  • Blog Post: Digitally Impecunious Pop Stars

    It seems that being a pop star is no longer the route to guaranteed wealth. According to several reports I've been reading, stars such as Lily Allen earn peanuts from writing and releasing songs and albums. Should we be feeling sorry for them...? The trouble is, they say, that nobody actually buys...
  • Blog Post: Digital Trainspotting

    I know that computers and digital electronics have almost completely taken over our world, but it was still an eye-opening experience to see just how much they have infiltrated one of my peripheral interests: model railways. Many years ago, when space and time permitted, I indulged physically in the...
  • Blog Post: A Book By Any Other Name

    So last week saw the sad demise of Bruce Robertson, the managing director of the UK-based Diagram organization that specializes in artwork and design for books and other publications. While I'm sure he'd most like to be remembered by the great work his company has done, the somewhat unfortunate fact...
  • 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: I Wished I Was ... in Iceland

    Birthdays are usually celebrated with a day off work, perhaps a trip to a garden centre, or just a lazy afternoon with a good book. However, as the milestone 60 loomed it was decided for me that I was going to have a week's vacation and go somewhere exciting. Somewhere that really had that "Wish you...
  • Blog Post: We Are Stardust

    I've been watching the BBC program Stargazing on TV this week, and I have to say that they did a much better job this year than last. As well as stunning live views of the Northern Lights over three nights, and interviews with some ex-astronauts as well as a lady from the Cassini imaging team, viewers...
  • Blog Post: Do You Have a Vision?

    In the olden days, people with a vision changed the world. Scientists such as James Clerk Maxwell kicked off the entire revolution in harnessing electricity and magnetism to build our modern world. Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley started the silicon revolution that gave us the microchip, and Tim Berners...
  • Blog Post: Double Your Money

    How would you like to be guaranteed a price for your products for the next thirty-five years, and at double the price you sell them for now? Sounds like a great idea. However, there are a couple of downsides... For example, you'll be allowed to sell only the lowest priced item, even if the customer...
  • Blog Post: More Night-time Wildlife

    As summer continues to exhibit its typical level of weather unpredictability here in Ye Olde England, the effects of our harsh spring have faded and everything is in bloom as though nothing untoward had happened. Everywhere you look, the countryside in this part of our green and pleasant land seems to...
  • Blog Post: Monkeys, Castles, Seals, and the Seaside

    With our Big Data guide now finished (at least for the preview release) I managed to grab a few days off to clear my head of pigs, ants, beehives, and furry yellow elephants. And to try and figure out where we go next on the Azure guidance path. Mind you, much of my vacation time seems to have involved...
  • Blog Post: The Moving Hoover Hooveth

    Would you buy a vacuum cleaner just for your cat to play with? After my wife watched some videos on YouTube where kittens were chasing and sitting on top of one of those robotic UFO-shaped vacuum cleaners, I was informed in no uncertain terms that we should have one for our two cats to play with. ...
  • Blog Post: Inverted Charting

    So I considered naming this week's post "Climb Up On My Roof Sunny Boy", but I'd probably get sued by Al Jolson's estate. Though, as we're now officially inverted here at chez Derbyshire, it did seem appropriate. What I wasn't expecting was the domestic strife that is a direct result. They don't tell...
  • 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: A Very Short Financial Honeymoon

    It comes as a bit of a shock when you phone your bank with a routine enquiry, only to be told that they're no longer a bank. When I mentioned it to a colleague she asked what they're turned into. Perhaps now they are a greengrocer? Or maybe a pet grooming salon? Have they spent my meagre savings on hair...
  • 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: Just Press F1!

    I'm increasingly seeing how big the disconnect is between people who use computers occasionally just because they need to do stuff on the Internet, and those of us who live and breathe computing. And we're not talking stupid people here; I see it most weeks with friends and acquaintances that are fully...
  • Blog Post: This Year I'll Do It Myself

    So it's New Year resolution time again, and it's pretty clear after many previous unsuccessful iterations that the usual crop consisting of more exercise, better diet, and giving up smoking are a waste of time. Therefore, after several months of playing host to an assortment of builders and tradesmen...
  • 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: A Sticky Situation

    I discovered this week why builders always have a tube of Superglue in their pockets, and how daft our method of heating houses here in the UK is. It's all connected with the melee of activity that's just starting to take over our lives at chez Derbyshire as we finally get round to all of the modernization...
  • 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...
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