My TV spots for ‘Get Randomised’

I recently edited some TV spots for a campaign to raise awareness of randmised clinical trials.  They were shown across Scotland with each region having its own version.  Here they are:

Get Randomised: Aberdeen

Get Randomised: Dundee

Get Randomised: Edinburgh

Get Randomised: Glasgow

Get Randomised: 10 second spot

Time and Trouble: a rant against MS Windows which yealds a potentially important philosophical tenet

I had to use Microsoft Windows today.  I had to transfer a file onto a USB flash drive.  Within seconds I was grinding my teeth, within the first minute I was literally shaking my fist (try it, it is therapeutic) and within the second minute I was shouting at everyone who walked past.

The thing:

So I needed this file to get from the PC to my flash drive. First of all, my drive had a little programme of its own that ran when inserted, opening its own windows but I quickly shut it and the windows down.  (And, yes that’s the drive’s fault and not Windows, except the program’s on a separate, undeletable partition only Windows can use, so it’s a Windows-only irritation.)

Then Adobe Photo-thing (not -shop) decided to open without being asked because Windows had taken the time and trouble to notice I had photos on the flash drive.  Very nice of it, except the hassle of closing Adobe Photo-thing was at least equal to that of dragging my photos onto a folder on the PC, and certainly infinitely more hassle than ignoring the photos altogether as I had intended.

So then I faced the window giving me options for what to do with the drive I’ve just inserted. Incredibly, the option ‘Open Folder to view contents’ is so far down the list I had to scroll for it.  Please, please, pretty pleeh-az correct me if I’m wrong (use the comments) but surely to All-That-is-Holy when I mount a disk within an OS the overwhelming likelihood is that I want to see and affect the files therein.  Admittedly, the options presented to me all did variations of that but if I were to open, say, Windows Media Player, would it load every media file on the disk?  Or none?  Again, if I want to watch one of the mpegs, opening it myself is as easy as having Media Player do it for me before I select which one of them to play.  (Assumptions here: that Media Player would show me all files available, and that double clicking on an mpeg would open it and start playing the file automatically.  Like I say, I didn’t do it.)

So, I opted to open the window to see my files, along with a separate window containing the file I wish to transfer.  (BTW, to do this I needed the shortcut Windows-M which I coincidentally overheard this week, to find and double click on My Computer.)  I check the size of the file (600mb) and the available space on the drive (800mb). Now, I simply drag and drop, right?


There was not enough space.  What?  But I just checked…

Now this is my fault, I concede, not Windows’.  It was my fault for assuming the figure at the bottom of the window represented the available space on the drive.  It didn’t.  In fact, it represented the space taken up by all the files in the window, not including folders.  Here’s that again with more italics: it represented the space taken up by all the files in the window, not including folders.  One of the things I shouted to passing strangers was, “For God’s sake, tell me the point of that!”  Again, use the comments and tell me, please, under what situation could I desire such information.  It tells me nothing of the used or available space because there could be anything or nothing in the folders it doesn’t include.  And while you’re typing your answer with both thumbs, I’ll tell you one drawback  I’ve found already: it wastes your time by misleading you that it must be useful info (by its very inclusion) and then requiring you work to find out that it is not and should be ignored.  Windows had taken the time and trouble to give me this useless number.  Granted, I asked for it.  I select Status Info, or whatever, from the view menu by default because I’m a huge fan of useful information.  I just don’t expect the most expensive OS in the world to lead me down a dark misinformation pathway.

So I delete enough stuff from my drive to accommodate the file (watching the figure at the bottom depreciate – how many want to know how much is on a drive compared with how many want to know how much can be put on it still?), drag it drop it, and walk away.

I’m reminded of something my boss once told me back when I was working in a call centre that predominantly  used Windows 98:  “Windows Explorer is terrific.  So powerful if you know how to use it.”  I heeded him, and used Explorer from that point forward to deal with files, and he was right.  It was like a regular window, except that you could always see every mounted drive, device and volume in a sidebar on the left.  Never again for me that useless (less than useless!) Windows window that I encountered today, six years later.  And, it occurs to me, that the Explorer functionality that I enjoyed then, pretty much exists in the standard Mac OSX Finder window that I have been using since 2004.  Standard Apple disclaimer here.

How the hell can it be that Windows is so shit?  I’m not on a pro-Apple crusade here, but I’m dumbfounded at how Windows can be as shiver-down-the-spine shite when it comes to basic tasks (my friend, Pedro, who knows about such things, tells me that its better for gaming at a code level, hence the games and Xbox)?  I argue not for the dissolution of Microsoft, I have no bone to pick with Bill Gates, I just don’t understand how so much money has yeilded such poor results.  I mean, they’re the biggest, the most expensive, and the worst.

Such thoughts have lead to the formulation of the following:

The Kenny Park Microsoft Law: there exists (surely) a number where the collective intelligence of a group of geniuses will equal the collective intelligence of the same number of imbeciles.

Which is as good an argument for devolved government as I have come up with today.

Site Unseen

Lost my homepage.  It used to be a pointless cluttering of the web, but it used to work.  Alas, now it’s a handy way to bring up a 404 error.

Here’s me apologising in person:

Daily Talk 49: Out of Site

Thing is, trying to fix it resulted in my completely losing this blog for a while.  Essentially, my index file (I presume) was trying to direct to a sub-directory that to my knowledge has never existed.  I tried deleting and replacing it, to no avail.  Curiously, this happened in Firefox and not in Safari.  I then started to wonder if Apple’s iWeb was to blame.  To cut a long story less-long, I started mucking around with my DNS settings directly, despite this warning on my host’s site that seems written especially for me:

To make matters worse, when I realised that I had screwed things up, and put things back to the way they had been as far as I could remember, I faced the fact that deleting CNAMEs seems to have instant effect, whereby re-instating them takes hours.  So although everything looked okay, no blog.

Finally, it reappeared, but at the time I was just thinking, ‘to hell with it, I obviously wasn’t meant to blog.’

I’m back, though, and aren’t you glad?


Lately, I find I am skint.  Because of this, and because I have little else to do with my slavers of free time, I have given some thought to how to get unskint.  Here’s an idea that applies to me and may apply to you:

An Amazon wish list.

Wait!  Wait!  Click not away just yet.  Thinkest thou, ’tis likely, that it is the mighty Amazon what we must thank for that idea.  Or perhaps they pinched it, but it certainly wasn’t the noble scribe of this most unfairly unread blog.  Correct you are, but the problem with the Amazon wish list is that it’s a bit limited in that what you’re wishing for has to be on Amazon.  Sure, a great many things are available on Amazon, but not the kind of stuff that I tend to impulse-buy.

Case in point: this very day I came across the Open Rights Group via an upcoming event from the sickeningly talented Neil Gaiman.  My first impulse was to join the group as a supporter, but, alas, the whole skint thing.  Still £10 a month isn’t too much, surely.  More importantly, it’s the kind of thing I’d forget about if I didn’t do it, like, immediately.

So I’m making my own wish list.  I’m going to post it here, too, so anyone who has more cash than sense can buy me stuff (without obligating me to do anything, of course).

Only, I’m not calling it a wish list, as that’s a marketing ploy to make you think that clicking Add to Basket is the same as Make Wish Come True.  Nope, mine is simply a To Buy list.  And the ORG are on it.  And so it the nice man who make the plugin that automatically upgrades my WordPress.

Feel free to make one yourself (and send me a thank-you donation, if you have any decency).

Nullriver losing on Netshare, but winning on MediaLink

(Update 4th Oct ’08: I had some friends over again and finally paid Nullriver for the code.  Only thing: I couldn’t then get it to work.  Then, this morning, without me doing anything, it works (and works beautifully).  I’ll have to invite people over again.  In the meantime, I’m sitting in my living room writing this while my TV sings me songs from an iTunes Genuis playlist based around Jackson C. Frank’s Blues Run The Game.  Right now it’s Easy Way Out by Elliot Smith.  Wonderful.)
Pain in the App
Pain in the App

Poor Nullriver have made a great-sounding iPhone app called Netshare which shared the phone’s cellular network with your laptop wirelessly, so you could get proper internet without a wi-fi network.  Sounds good, except that Apple pulled it from App Store after only a few hours.  It came back the next day, only to disappear again.  This has pissed a lot of people off.

While browsing Nullriver’s site, though, I found an program that shared my iTunes library with my Playstation 3, including video, photos and all playlists.  I had previously tried a program called EyeConnect by Elgato, but so far I’m way happier with Nullriver’s MediaLink.  I can’t afford the $20 to get the full version ’til next pay day, but I got the 30 minute trial version which is cool.  After my half hour, it disguises all the filenames with ‘Please register MediaLink!’ which is fair enough.  It still works fine on shuffle.

I only wish I’d had it last time we had friends round on a Friday night.  I had to hook my laptop up to the TV via a DVI-to-HDMI adapter and mini-jack to phono for the audio.  The iTunes visualiser was distracting on the 46″ screen and the sound was quiet through the analogue cable.  Never again!

Blog Starts Anew!

This is the first post of the blog.  Anyone who’s been to before may disagree, but it’s my blog and I’m telling you: this is the first post.

No longer do we have the epic tale of my 2006 Worldcon, my musings on Rocky VI, Monty the dog in his infancy or diatribes against DRM.

Nope, this is the first post.  Why?  Let’s just say that when you don’t pay your hosting fees, they get medieval on your MySQL databases.

Now the Worldcon stuff was originally hosted on Apple’s servers, and I spent many an hour laboriously transferring the words and pictures to this site.  No one looked at it, so I’m not going to bother this time.  This time I’m just going to pretend this is the first post.

So there.

Welcome to my “new” blog.