Random photos from last night’s outing to Brum follow, including a police car having its photo taken outside the Bullring and the ever-fabulous Annie from DV8.

Police car having its photo taken outside the Bullring

Annie on the podium at DV8

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon

Sometimes I really hate shift working, but sometimes I really like it. Today, it is a good thing. Today has been a great Sunday.

Don’t get me wrong – the government haven’t suddenly swapped Thursday and Sunday over in some kind of attempt to improve the NHS figures or something (ooh, how political), but I have been off work both yesterday and today so it’s almost like the weekend for me.

So today has mostly been spent recovering from yesterday’s gym-based activities, which has been much easier to deal with than my usual alcohol-induced Sunday hangovers. There has been much drinking of water, catching up on sleep and watching of the wonder that is the O.C, but less pain and slightly less bruising. Is the whole Sunday thing making more sense now?

And of course one of the benefits of it not actually being a Sunday in the Real World(TM) is that you can still have bouts of productiveness in between all the laziness. So I’ve phoned up the glazing people to remind me when they’re coming to repair the front door of my mother’s house, phoned the lady next door to make sure she’ll be able to let them in, and even taken the car to Warwick and back for a service.

I have a strange feeling I’ll remember today, but just as one of those days you remember for no particular reason, other than as a reminder that life can occasionally be good. Other people I’ve talked to today may remember it for different reasons either good or bad, and some would probably rather forget it ever happened at all. But for me it’s been good.

Tomorrow may not be so good, as I’m about to do one of the worst things you can do on a Sunday (at least when you don’t have the benefit of being off work the next day), namely Sunday clubbing. But I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

Listening to: Moby – 18 – quite loudly and with all the windows open.
Appreciating: Having my car cleaned for free. Yay!
Blatantly stealing this style from: M, via Laurie.

So long, PSU

So today, I was enjoying my day off work when suddenly and mysteriously my PC turned itself off. Further investigations confirmed that the power supply had quietly passed over to the other side whilst I was browsing the web.

The dead PSU lying on my bed

Luckily, one of the joys of being a geek is that you always have a plentiful supply of spare parts lying around the place in case of such a disaster occuring. So out came the scewdriver, and the PSU from my old PC that I have stored away in the airing cupboard was yanked out and used to replace the sadly deceased component.

With the computer now working fine but making a noise rather like a light aircraft, I wasted no time in buying a new silent PSU and a new silent processor fan to go with it. Consumerism is so bad for me.

Get well soon, Kylie

I was going to blog about the fact that I had to stand outside Costcutter for ten minutes this morning, or about my runner number for the Two Castles run coming through in the post yesterday, but suddenly those two topics seem a little inconsequential.

Apparently this has been on the radio quite a lot this morning, but I think I got into work too early to hear it. Kylie Minogue has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is having to cut short the Showgirl tour as a result.

It’s hard to believe that someone we watched perform as she did for two hours the other week is going through this so soon afterwards. It’s stange, but I feel some kind of connection with all of this, in a way I didn’t even get when the Pope died last month. That just felt foreign and remote, something I couldn’t connect with. This just seems so real. And shocking.

Is this what live music does for you? Either way, here’s hoping she’s better soon.

Open source in schools

Last week the government IT agency BECTA finally published their assessment of the potential benefits of using open source software in schools. The report contains some surprising conclusions – even for longstanding open source advocates like myself – such as the finding that primary schools could cut their computer budgets by nearly half if they were to replace their proprietary (read Microsoft) systems with OSS alternatives.

As you might expect Microsoft have rubbished the report, citing a number of shortcomings in the research carried out by BECTA. But even if the points Microsoft make are vaid, it’s difficult to see how they can possibly claim that their solutions provide better value for money for schools in the face of the evidence.

Sure, open source software isn’t a magic ticket that’ll guarantee you save money, but if you know what you’re doing with it then the evidence seems to point to a number of potential benefits.

And the most interesting thing about this report? According to the meta-information embedded in the PDF file on BECTA’s web site, it was produced on by Quark Express on a Mac. That’s a proprietary software package, running on a proprietary OS running on proprietary hardware. Still, I guess it proves that they’re not just a bunch of open source zealots 🙂

The Guardian do Warwick Blogs

Via e-lab’s Blogbuilder news blog comes an article from the Guardian’s Online section all about Warwick Blogs.

There’s no mention of us pioneers of course, not that I’m bitter. Did I mention we were here first? Nor did they mention Kieran or Rob, both of whom I know put a lot of work in to set up Warwick Blogs in the first place. Perhaps more embarrassingly, they refer to John as the “head of IT services at Warwick”, something which I suspect may not make Rosemary very happy.

Despite the omissions and the almost Warwick Boar-esqe inaccurancy in the text, the article seems quite balanced, if a little short. If anyone has a paper copy lying around that they want to send to me then please do, as apparently the presentation is a lot more impressive in print than online.

My most political blog post ever

I must say that the general election rather passed me by this time. Mostly due to my own lameness I ended up not able to vote, and mostly due to us not having a TV licence and me wanting to catch up with the episodes of Desperate Housewives that I’ve missed recently I didn’t watch it on TV either.

Then this morning I woke up late and completely forgot that there’d been a general election the day before, my brain obviously having prioritised the act of rushing around in an attempt to not be too late for work above such things.

It wasn’t until I was driving out of Leamington that I turned the radio on, having finally got fed up of listening to Confide In Me, which had been in the CD player since Monday night. They were reading out the news on Radio 1, saying something about Howard congratulating Blair on the result.

The words were scarily reminiscent of last year’s presidential election, reminding me of Kerry’s speech conceding defeat to Bush. But this time it was a relief to hear those words and be reassured that this country at least had not ended up in the hands of a bunch of neo-cons. Although everyone expected Labour to win a third term, in the days leading up to poll day I couldn’t help but fear what might happen if things were to somehow go wrong.

But although there were no shocks this morning, checking the results this evening on BBC News yielded a few nasty surprises. Particularly the gains made by the Conservatives in the West Midlands, with James Plaskitt struggling to hold onto Warwick & Leamington with a majority of only 306 and the Tories gaining Kenilworth & Rugby (and half of campus along with it) from Labour.

Still, the Lib Dems took Solihull from the Tories, the Conservative vote at home took a nose dive after the previous Conservative candidate ran as an independent and Jim Cunningham kept hold of Coventry South for Labour. So I guess it’s not all bad.

Next time an election comes round though, somebody please remind me to get up off my arse and make sure I’m registered to vote. If today’s taught me anything, it’s about the fragility of electoral majorities, and the effects it has when things do change.

Yup, next time I’ll definitely be making sure I exercise my constitutional right to vote. Brown for PM! Or maybe I’ll go for Lib Dem, if Labour continue to piss me off over the next few years… We’ll see.

Kill me now

I never thought I’d say this, but today I found myself in agreement with one of UKIP’s policies. Perhaps leaving the EU in order to avoid having to implement the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive in the UK is a little extreme, but I guess it’s one way to avoid software patents.


So she didn’t bring along the Pet Shop Boys, Robbie or (thank God) Jason, but Kylie rocked on Sunday night. I’m still wearing the sweatband I bought on the night I’m still playing Kylie albums in the car whenever I go anywhere.

My love of Kylie has been hugely magnified.

Jamie, Mary and Jenny before the show starts

Looking down towards the stage during the performance

Leaving Earls Court after the concert

Monday was spent wandering up the A312 on our riverside walk from Chelsea to Embankment, eating muffins and generally hanging around central London. The camera died halfway through the day, cutting my photographic activities short, but wandering around the city was fun and the company good.

Iraq protest at Westminster

Looking up to Big Ben