Friday, 31 August 2007


The irrational fear of palindromes.

See full article at

Milholland on typos

Typos are very important to all written form. It gives the reader something to look for so they aren't distracted by the total lack of content in your writing.

--Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic, 07-03-05

The "the"


I've always been confused when it's proper to use the word "the" when describing or referring something. Here's an example: "I would really like to know what caused the Titanic to sink so fast" Or "I would really like to know what caused Titanic to sink so fast" Which is proper? Here's another one that puzzles me; "My father works for the CIA"as opposed to; "My father works for NASA" It's common to hear someone refer to "the CIA" But, I never hear anyone refer to "the NASA". What gives here?


But what about 'The' for Countries

'The Vatican' is a shortening of an older official name, the Vatican States, like the US or the UK.

'The Ukraine', 'the Levant', 'the Sinde' are British designations that applied when those were areas rather than countries, or are now provinces within a country. Indeed, there is an official move to say Ukraine rather than 'the Ukraine' in recognition that Ukraine is a separate country, not a part of Poland or 'Little Russia' or an SSR/CCP.

But what about 'The Wirral' Or "The Netherlands", as well as many nations comprising groups of islands, like "The Philippines", etc.

Answer #2

Yes, it does look like, if an abbreviation is pronounced as set of letters (FBI - ef b iai) then this word needs an article. In the other case (NASA - naesa) the article isn't needed.

Other examples are the CIA, the NIS, the IRS, the WTO, the EU -- and then NAFTA and NATO. If the abbreviation is not the name of an organization this rule does not necessarily apply.

from usenet

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Royal Purple

Probably the most expensive dye of ancient times was Tyrian purple. Obtained from a small sac in the body of a snail-like marine mollusk. Only royalty and the very wealthy could afford to wear apparel colored with this dye.

Vice Regent

Q: Can anyone explain to me in clear terms the difference between a regent and a vice-regent?

A: A regent occupies a throne that would otherwise be vacant, holding the monarchy in trust--for an underage or otherwise unfit ruler, or through an interregnum.

A vicegerent is the agent or lieutenant of an extant ruler, functioning e. g. as the governor of a territory or as a plenipotentiary ambassador.

In short, I would say that a regent is a substitute while a vicegerent is a deputy.

from usenet

Grabbing Internet Graphics In One Easy Click

If you are an avid Internet graphics grabber, use this quick tip to make your life easier.

Using Internet Explorer, with your links toolbar turned on, drag a shortcut of your 'My Documents' or 'My Pictures' folder, or any folder in which you save Internet graphics.

When online, simply drag the picture from the Web site to the shortcut on the Links bar. The only downfall is that the file is saved with the server-side filename.

This tip takes you from 8 or more clicks to one! That's a time saver!


gbText provides over 40 methods for quickly making changes to the content of a text file.

Special features include hex viewing of a file, random data generation, analysis of the word and character content of a file, and word wrapping to user-defined widths.

Freeware at

Theft From A Timber Yard

Friday, May 11, 1860

Richard Humphreys, a forgeman, was charged with stealing a piece of timber from the yard of John Cooke, Scholes bridge. Police-constable Richardson met the prisoner on Thursday night last, coming along the banks of the Douglas from the direction of Cooke's yard. He had a piece of timber about ten feet long in his possession, and on the officer asking him where he had got it, he said from the foundry, and that his master knew of it. This was not satisfactory to the police officer, and he told the prisoner he would have to go with him to the police station. The prisoner begged not to be taken, and said he would make all right, and as they passed the timber yard he wanted to put the stolen timber over the rails again, but the officer would not let him, and took him into custody.

See the full story at Wiganworld (Old news detailing sports, crime, violence and suffering in Victorian Wigan) at

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

ImplosionWorld / Explosive Demolition

Welcome to the explosive demolition industry’s worldwide source for news and information on building implosions, blowdowns and all other types of structural blasting projects. publishes news, feature articles and non-proprietary technical information. In addition, there’s the award-winning photography captured by Protec Documentation Services as well as many outside contributors. Throughout this website, you’ll find images designed to capture the essence of each unique project, as we work to present an insightful look into the world of explosive demolition with perspective and integrity.

Monday, 27 August 2007


In rhetoric, litotes is a figure of speech in which a speaker, rather than making a certain claim, denies its opposite; for example, rather than call a person stupid, one might say he's "not the sharpest tool in the shed". Litotes can be used to weaken a statement — "It's bad, but it's O.K." can be seen as self-contradictory, but one can weaken the first part using litotes, producing "It's not good, but it's O.K.", which is a reasonable statement. Conversely, litotes can be used as a form of understatement, strengthening or emphasizing a statement, as in the first example above. The interpretation of litotes thus depends on context, including cultural context.

Statute of Arms

In 1292 the "Statute of Arms for Tournaments" was ordained by King Edward I (1272-1307). The 1292 Statute of Arms provided new laws for tournaments which included jousting. The Statute of Arms ordained that no pointed weapons should be used - they should be blunted. New types of lances were developed called the 'lance of peace'. The tip of this type of lance had either been rebated (blunted) or replaced by a metal crown-shaped head called a coronel, which was designed to disperse the impact of the blow during the jousting contest.
In 1299 life and limb were declared to be forfeit in the case of those who should arrange a tournament and jousting events without the royal licence which had been initiated by Richard the Lionheart. Offenders were to be seized with 'horse and harness'.

Seven Seas?

Avast thar, matey, as we raise the anchor and set sail for the seven seas!
"What seas be these," ye land-lubbers say?
Well, honestly, any seas, just as long as there's a lot of 'em.

While pirates and ancient mariners may have bragged about sailing the seven seas, the phrase is merely figurative. The dictionary explains it as meaning "all the oceans of the world."

In ancient and medieval Europe and Arabia, the seven seas were some combination of these nine bodies of water: the Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, Arabian Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, and Red Sea. Notice how they're all clustered around the Mediterranean -- these so-called sailors had yet to venture out of their backyards.

During the Age of Discovery, from 1450 to 1650, this informal list was sometimes rearranged to be these seven navigable seas: the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Pacific Ocean. Bigger, but still not all-encompassing.

Only in more recent times did the list go worldwide as the Arctic Ocean, Antarctic (or Southern) Ocean, Indian Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, and South Pacific Ocean. Of course, that's something of a stretch, because it cuts two oceans in half. And the world's oceans are actually connected, so they're all one, great, big sea.

Sunday, 26 August 2007


A woman goes into a hairdresser's in Newcastle, and says "I want a perm."
So the assistant says "I wandered leurnly as a cloud ..."
The woman says "No, man, I want me hair curled."
So he stuck her head in the fridge..

`Hush, hush!' the Spy entreats him, timidly. `And why not, citizen?'

The last line of Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

History of the GUI

Nice article at Ars Technica about the development of the GUI from (pre)Xerox days right up to XP and Mac OS X.

Some nice pictures of the various displays over the years (open them to see the detail):

Escoffier / To Scoff

Synopsis of Escoffier, The King of Chefs by Kenneth James

The most famous chef of them all - bar none, including Jamie Oliver. It is hard to over empathise his importance to fine cuisine. We derive the word 'scoff' from his name of course.

Auguste Escoffier was the first great star of modern cooking. Acknowledged during his lifetime as the greatest chef in the world, his clientele included Edward VII and Kaiser Wilhelm II as well as the leaders of society and of fashion. His partnership with the hotelier Cesar Ritz established a tradition of superb cooking as an essential part of the luxury hotel, at the same time making dining in public respectable for women. Escoffier also revolutionized the way food was presented, popularized his repertoire in a series of hugely successful cookery books. Kenneth James traces Escoffier's career from his humble origins on the French Riviera to Paris, London and New York. He shows what made cuisine at the Savoy and the Carlton so outstanding, as well as drawing a personal and culinary portrait of a chef of genius. Escoffier: The King of Chefs also presents the dishes, from eggs to lobster, on which Escoffier had both a lasting influence and strongly-held views.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

The History of Barbed Wire

United States Patent #157,124 was granted to Joseph Glidden of DeKalb, Illinois on November 24th, 1874 for improved barbed wire fencing.
Life in the American West was reshaped by a series of patents for a simple tool that helped ranchers tame the land: barbed wire. Nine patents for improvements to wire fencing were granted by the U.S. Patent Office to American inventors, beginning with Michael Kelly in November 1868 and ending with Joseph Glidden in November 1874. The new fencing not only simplified the work of the rancher and farmer, but it significantly affected political, social, and economic practices throughout the region. The swift emergence of this highly effective tool as the favored fencing method influenced life in the region as dramatically as the rifle, six-shooter, telegraph, windmill, and locomotive.
Barbed wire was extensively adopted because it proved ideal for western conditions. Vast and undefined prairies and plains yielded to range management, farming, and ultimately, widespread settlement. As the use of barbed wire increased, wide open spaces became less wide, less open, and less spacious, and the days of the free roaming cowboy were numbered.

Euclidean geometry

The five postulates of the Elements are:

  1. Any two points can be joined by a straight line.
  2. Any straight line segment can be extended indefinitely in a straight line.
  3. Given any straight line segment, a circle can be drawn having the segment as radius and one endpoint as center.
  4. All right angles are congruent.
  5. If two lines are drawn which intersect a third in such a way that the sum of the inner angles on one side is less than two right angles, then the two lines inevitably must intersect each other on that side if extended far enough.


Dinner Badge

Dried stains of kebab juice, curry sauce or gravy all over your shirt from messy eating.


Thursday, 23 August 2007


Gullible fool, or Village Idiot, with elements of pomposity.
"He's a right daft wassock, thinks he knows it all but he can't tell cabbage from turnip!"

Lancashire dialect word, only ever used light-heartedly as a very mild insult. Pronounced 'wazzock' rather than with an 's' sound. Once famously appeared on a hit record by Tony Capstick, giving it a brief period of popularity with schoolkids, including me, but now only uttered without a degree of irony by coffin dodgers.
"No, you wassock, I said Settle, not Seattle!"

A Tourists Guide to England

The Brits have peculiar words for many things. Money is referred to as "goolies" in slang, so you should for instance say, "I'd love to come to the pub but I haven't got any goolies." "Quid" is the modern word for what was once called a "shilling" -- the equivalent of seventeen cents American. Underpants are called "wellies" and friends are called "tossers." If you are fond of someone, you should tell him he is a "great tosser" -- he will be touched. The English are a notoriously demonstrative, tactile people, and if you want to fit in you should hold hands with your acquaintances and tossers when you walk down the street. Public nuzzling and licking are also encouraged, but only between people of the same sex.

Habits: Ever since their Tory government wholeheartedly embraced full union with Europe, the Brits have been attempting to adopt certain continental customs, such as the large midday meal followed by a two or three hour siesta, which they call a "wank." As this is still a fairly new practice in Britain, it is not uncommon for people to oversleep (alarm clocks, alas, do not work there due to the magnetic pull from Greenwich). If you are late for supper, simply apologize and explain that you were having a wank -- everyone will understand and forgive you.

Universities: University archives and manuscript collections are still governed by quaint medieval rules retained out of respect for tradition; hence patrons are expected to bring to the reading rooms their own inkpots and a small knife for sharpening their pens. Observing these customs will signal the librarians that you are "in the know" one of the inner circle, as it were, for the rules are unwritten and not posted anywhere in the library. Likewise, it is customary to kiss the librarian on both cheeks when he brings a manuscript you've requested, a practice dating back to the reign of Henry VI.

One of the most delightful ways to spend an afternoon in Oxford or Cambridge is gliding gently down the river in one of their flat-bottomed boats, which you propel using a long pole. This is known as "cottaging." Many of the boats (called "yer-i-nals") are privately owned by the colleges, but there are some places that rent them to the public by the hour. Just tell a professor or policeman that you are interested in doing some cottaging and would like to know where the public yerinals are. The poles must be treated with oil to protect them from the water, so it's a good idea to buy a pot of Vaseline and have it on you when you ask directions to the yerinals. That way people will know you are an experienced cottager.

Food: British cuisine enjoys a well-deserved reputation as the most sublime gastronomic pleasure available to man. Thanks to today's robust dollar, the American traveller can easily afford to dine out several times a week (rest assured that a British meal is worth interrupting your afternoon wank for).

Few foreigners are aware that there are several grades of meat in the UK. The best cuts of meat, like the best bottles of gin, bear Her Majesty's seal, called the British Stamp of Excellence (BSE). When you go to a fine restaurant, tell your waiter you want BSE beef and won't settle for anything less. If he balks at your request, custom dictates that you jerk your head imperiously back and forth while rolling your eyes to show him who is boss.

Once the waiter realizes you are a person of discriminating taste, he may offer to let you peruse the restaurant's list of exquisite British wines. If he doesn't, you should order one anyway. The best wine grapes grow on the steep, chalky hillsides of Yorkshire and East Anglia -- try an Ely '84 or Ripon '88 for a rare treat indeed.

When the bill for your meal comes it will show a suggested amount. Pay whatever you think is fair, unless you plan to dine there again, in which case you should simply walk out; the restaurant host will understand that he should run a tab for you.

Transportation: Public taxis are subsidized by the Her Majesty's Government. A taxi ride in London costs two pounds, no matter how far you travel. If a taxi driver tries to overcharge you, you should yell, "I think not, you charlatan!", then grab the nearest bobby and have the driver arrested. It is rarely necessary to take a taxi, though, since bus drivers are required to make detours at patrons' requests. Just board any bus, pay your fare of thruppence (the heavy gold-colored coins are "pence"), and state your destination clearly to the driver, e. g.: "Please take me to the British Library." A driver will frequently try to have a bit of harmless fun by pretending he doesn't go to your requested destination. Ignore him, as he is only teasing the American tourist (little does he know you're not so ignorant!).

Speaking of the British Library, you should know that it has recently moved to a new location at Kew. Kew is a small fishing village in Wales. It can be reached by taking the train to Cardiff; once there, ask any local about the complimentary shuttle bus to Kew. Don't forget that buses are called "prams" in England, and trains are called "bumbershoots"--it's a little confusing at first. Motorcycles are called "lorries" and the hospital, for reasons unknown, is called the "off-license". It's also very important to know that a "doctor" only means a Ph. D. in England, not a physician. If you want a physician, you must ask for an "MP" (which stands for "master physician").

For those travelling on a shoestring budget, the London Tube may be the most economical way to get about, especially if you are a woman. Chivalry is alive and well in Britain, and ladies still travel for free on the Tube. Simply take some tokens from the baskets at the base of the escalators or on the platforms; you will find one near any of the state-sponsored Tube musicians. Once on the platform, though, beware! Approaching trains sometimes disturb the large Gappe bats that roost in the tunnels. The Gappes were smuggled into London in the early 19th century by French saboteurs and have proved impossible to exterminate. The announcement "Mind the Gappe!" is a signal that you should grab your hair and look towards the ceiling. Very few people have ever been killed by Gappes, though, and they are considered only a minor drawback to an otherwise excellent means of transportation. (If you have difficulty locating the Tube station, merely follow the signs that say "Subway" and ask one of the full-time attendants where you can catch the bumbershoot.)

One final note: For preferential treatment when you arrive at Heathrow airport, announce that you are a member of Shin Fane (an international Jewish peace organization -- the "shin" stands for "shalom"). As savvy travellers know, this little white lie will assure you priority treatment as you make your way through customs; otherwise you could waste all day in line. You might, in fact, want to ask a customs agent to put a Shin Fane stamp in your passport, as it will expedite things on your return trip.


SpeedFan is a freeware program that monitors voltages, fan speeds and temperatures in computers with hardware monitor chips. SpeedFan can even access S.M.A.R.T. info for those hard disks that support this feature and show hard disk temperatures too, if supported. SpeedFan supports SCSI disks too.


Sunday, 19 August 2007

AMP Calendar

AMP Calendar is small utility, that simply displays a 12 month calendar for the current (or selected) year. It runs in the system tray, and displays the current date in the tray icon. You can optionally choose to display week numbers, and also calculate the difference between two selected days. This is read-only calendar, you cannot add any entries and it does not support any holidays.....

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Life in the 1500s

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the1500s:

These are interesting...

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water..

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying .. It's raining cats and dogs.

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, Dirt poor. The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door , it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old..

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat..

Those with money had plates! made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer..

And that's the truth... Now, whoever said History was boring ! ! !

Monday, 13 August 2007

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa.

--Heisenberg, uncertainty paper, 1927

Darwin's Theory of Evolution

The theory underlying modern synthesis has three major aspects:

  • The common descent of all organisms from a single ancestor or ancestral gene pool.
  • The manifestation of novel traits in a lineage.
  • The mechanisms that cause some traits to persist while others perish.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Vicar / More tea vicar?

Can anyone tell me the origin of the phrase "More tea vicar".

I don't know if it's used in America, but in England it's sort of a joke after something embarrassing happens - the idea is that the thing happens in a household of posh people having a vicar over for some tea, and he sees something totally embarrassing happening, and everyone pretends it hasn't happened and offers him more tea.
I know it sounds odd, but there we are.

Anagrams (of 'More Tea Vicar')
- Ever aromatic! (by V.Rabin by hand) (2003)
- Rot! I 'ave cream! (by Colin Thomas by hand) (2001)

I get the impression that the term "vicar" isn't much liked by... er... vicars. This may be because it has taken on a comedy image ("More tea, vicar?") or perhaps because of its rather low-status ecclesiastical connotations. Traditionally, in the CofE, livings (i. e the right to be the local rector) were in the gift of the rural gentry. These could be very lucrative because of the right to collect tithes (taxes in kind from local farmers). Some livings also included substantial land holdings (glebe lands) in their own right. So the local gentry, being deeply pious, ahem, appointed themselves or their relatives to the livings or even sold them on the open market. So many rectors were absentees or didn't want to trouble themselves with burdensome religious duties and appointed stipendiary vicars (i. e. deputies or representatives, as in "vicarious") to do the actual work.


QuickStart allows you to quickly find items in your Start Menu, Favorites, Recent Files, Desktop and History, that match a typed keyword. In addition, you can specify a custom directory, as well as file extensions to look for. Just type in the keyword and press enter to be presented with a list of items that match your entry - you can then select and launch the program, link or file by selecting it from the list.
Quick Start is Freeware with no ads, no nag screens and no limitations.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Office Challenge


One Point Dares
1. Ignore the first five people who say 'good morning' to you.
2. To signal the end of a conversation, clamp your hands over your ears and grimace.
3. Leave your fly open for one hour. If anyone points it out, say, "Sorry, I really prefer it this way".
4. Walk sideways to the photocopier.
5. While riding in an elevator, gasp dramatically every time the doors open.
6. When in elevator with one other person, tap them on the shoulder and pretend it wasn't you.
7. Finish all your sentences with "In accordance with the prophecy..."
8. Don't use any punctuation.
9. Interrupt your conversation with someone by giving a huge dejected sigh.
10. Use your highlighter pen on the computer screen.

Three Point Dares
1. Say to your boss, "I like your style", wink, and shoot him with double-barrelled fingers.
2. Kneel in front of the water cooler and drink directly from the nozzle.
3. Shout random numbers while someone is counting.
4. Every time you get an email, shout ''email''.
5. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has got over his or her caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.
6. Keep hole punching your finger. Each time you do, shout, "dagnamit, it's happened again!". Then do it again.
7. Introduce yourself to a new colleague as "the office bicycle". Then wink and pout.
8. Call I.T. helpdesk and tell them that you can't seem to access any p*rnography web sites.

Five Point Dares
1. At the end of a meeting, suggest that, for once, it would be nice to conclude with the singing of the national anthem (extra points if you actually launch into it yourself).
2. Walk into a very busy person's office and while they watch you with growing irritation, turn the light switch on/off 10 times.
3. For an hour, refer to everyone you speak to as "Dave".
4. Announce to everyone in a meeting that you "really have to go do a number two".
5. When you've picked up a call, before speaking finish off some fake conversation with the words, ''she can abort it for all I care''.
6. After every sentence, say 'Mon' in a really bad Jamaican accent. As in: "The report's on your desk, Mon." Keep this up for one hour.
7. In a meeting or crowded situation, slap your forehead repeatedly and mutter, "Shut up, damn it, all of you just shut up!"
8. At lunchtime, get down on your knees and announce, "As God is my witness, I'll never go hungry again!"
9. Repeat the following conversation 10 times to the same person: "Do you hear that?" "What?" "Never mind, it's gone now."
10. Present meeting attendees with a cup of coffee and biscuit; smash each biscuit with your fist.
11. During the course of a meeting, slowly edge your chair towards the door.
12. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.
13. Ask people what sex they are. Laugh hysterically after they answer.
14. Sign or pp all letters with your initials and a swastika.
15. Dry hump the photocopier. When someone spots you, stop and cough embarrassingly, then lean in to the machine and whisper loudly, "I'll see you tonight".

People's Names

There is the man with five forename and a six-barrelled surname - Leone Sextus Denys Oswulf Fraduati Tollemache-Tollemache-de Orellana-Plantagenet-Tollemache-Tollemache.

The Duke of Windsor had seven christian names - Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, and Queen Mary had eight - Victoria Mary Augusta Louisa Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes.

There was a case a few years ago of a man who, after a dispute with his bank, changed his name to "Yorkshire Bank PLC Are Fascist Bastards". He insisted that they pay the 69p balance in his account by a cheque made out to his new name.

It seems that Britain applies the following rules for names adopted under the Deed Poll system:
- it must be pronounceable;
- it must not contain digits or symbols;
- it may contain hyphens to link names and/or apostrophes (e.g. O'Brien), but otherwise must not contain punctuation marks.
Nothing is said, it seems, about the number or length of name elements or the whole name, and there appears to be no restriction about the use of diacritic marks.

Curious surname pronunciations
- 'Auchinlech' - 'Af-lek'
- 'Belvoir' - 'Beaver'
- 'Featherstonehaugh' - 'Fanshaw'
- 'Marjoribanks' - 'Marchbanks'
- 'Theobald' - 'Tibbald'
- 'Woolfhardisworthy' - 'Woolsey'

Friday, 10 August 2007


WinDirStat is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Microsoft Windows (all current variants). WinDirStat reads the whole directory tree once and then presents it in three useful views:

  • The directory list, which resembles the tree view of the Windows Explorer but is sorted by file/subtree size.
  • The treemap, which shows the whole contents of the directory tree straight away.
  • The extension list, which serves as a legend and shows statistics about the file types.



Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.

You can use Audacity to:
  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and WAV sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • And more! See the complete list of features.

Audacity is free software, developed by a group of volunteers and distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).


The Official Moron Test

1. Is there a 4th of July in England? Yes or no?
2. How many birthdays does the average man have?
3. Some months have 31 days. How many have 28?
4. How many outs are there in an inning?
5. Can a man in California marry his widow's sister?
6. Take the number 30, divide it by 1/2, and then add 10. What do you get?
7. There are 3 apples and you take two away. How many apples are you left with?
8. A doctor gives you three pills and tells you to take one every half an hour. How long will the pills last?
9. A farmer has 17 sheep. All but 9 of them die. How many sheep are left?
10. How many animals of each sex did Moses bring with him on the ark?
11. A butcher in the market is 5'10" tall. What does he weigh?
12. How many 2-cent stamps are there in a dozen?
13. What was the President's name in 1960?

Here are the answers:
1. Is there a 4th of July in England? Yes or No?
... Yes. It comes right after the 3rd.
2. How many birthdays does the average man have?
... One (1). You can only be born once.
3. Some months have 31 days. How many have 28?
... Twelve (12). All of them have at least 28 days.
4. How many outs are there in an inning?
... Six (6). Don't forget there is a top and bottom to every inning.
5. Can a man in California marry his widow's sister?
... No. He must be dead if it is his widow.
6. Take the number 30, divide it by 1/2, and then add 10. What do you get?
... Seventy (70). Thirty (30) divided by 1/2 is 60.
7. There are 3 apples and you take two away. How many apples are you left with?
… Two (2). You take two apples, therefore YOU have TWO apples.
8. A doctor gives you three pills and tells you to take one every half an hour. How long will the pills last?
... One hour. If you take the first pill at 1:00, the second at 1:30, and the third at 2:00, the pills have run out and only one hour has passed.
9. A farmer has 17 sheep. All but 9 of them die. How many sheep are left?
... Nine (9). Like I said, all BUT nine die.
10. How many animals of each sex did Moses have on the ark?
... None. I didn't know that Moses had an ark.
11. A butcher in the market is 5' 10 tall. What does he weigh?
... Meat ... that is self-explanatory.
12. How many 2-cent stamps are there in a dozen?
...Twelve (12). How many eggs are in a dozen? Twelve. It's a dozen.
13. What was the President's name in 1960?
... George W. Bush. As far as I know, he hasn't changed his name.

So, how did we do?
13 correct are good.
10-12 correct ABOVE AVERAGE...but don't let it go to your head.
7-9 correct AVERAGE...but who wants to be average?
4-6 correct attention to the questions!
1-3 correct IDIOT...what else can be said?
0 correct CONGRATULATIONS, you are a certified MORON!

Thursday, 9 August 2007


Semantically, one rich source of jargon constructions is the hackish tendency to anthropomorphize hardware and software. English purists and academic computer scientists frequently look down on others for anthropomorphizing hardware and software, considering this sort of behavior to be characteristic of naive misunderstanding. But most hackers anthropomorphize freely, frequently describing program behavior in terms of wants and desires.

Thus it is common to hear hardware or software talked about as though it has homunculi talking to each other inside it, with intentions and desires. Thus, one hears "The protocol handler got confused", or that programs "are trying" to do things, or one may say of a routine that "its goal in life is to X". Or: "You can't run those two cards on the same bus; they fight over interrupt 9."
from The on-line Hacker Jargon File

Eponym & Eponymous Foods

An eponym is the name of a person, whether real or fictitious, who has (or is thought to have) given rise to the name of a particular place, tribe, discovery, or other item. An eponymous person is the person referred to by the eponym. In contemporary English, the term eponymous is often used to mean self-titled. The word eponym is often used for the thing titled. Stigler's law of eponymy suggests that Eponyms are usually false, i.e., things are rarely named after the person who discovered or invented them.


FRANGIPANI: almond-flavored cream created by Marquis Muzio Frangipani.
MOZARTKUGELN: marzipan with nougat cream, dipped in chocolate created in Vienna in 1890 by Salzburg confectioner Paul Furst, and named in honor of Mozart.
MADELEINE: light sponge cake associated with Madeleine Palmier, a French pastry chef.
MELBA TOAST: toasted bread, sliced and baked created at The Ritz to ameliorate Dame Nellie’s diet.
THE SANDWICH: named after the 11th Earl of Sandwich to facilitate simultaneous eating & gambling.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Idiot, Imbecile or Moron?

In 1940 it was proper to refer to the “mental deficient” as the idiot, the imbecile and the moron. A textbook titled “Psychiatry for Nurses” by Karnosh and Gage (1940) carefully instructs the student the correct classifications that have evolved into today’s insult. Below is a direct quote from Psychiatry of Nurses (1940 - p. 237.)

Types of Mental Deficiency

The idiot is one whose mental capacity is below the third-year level; they are clumsy, awkward, untidy and require constant supervision in the performance of the simplest requirement of living. Most idiots learn a few simple words but rarely learn to talk intelligently.

The imbecile may attain a mental level of six or seven years. Imbeciles can generally talk with a very crude vocabulary, can be taught simple manual tasks.

The moron ranges in mental accomplishment between the eighty-year level and the lower adult normal which is ordinarily reached at about the fifteenth year. Constituting more than 80 percent of all forms of mental defect, the morons are one of the serious problems of modern times. Having no gross physical defects, they present themselves as a shiftless, unstable group which gravitates to the lowest level of manual labor and social activity. Out of this class are the recruited, the petty criminal, the prostitute, and the ne’er-do-well.”


xplorer² lite

The lightweight version of xplorer² is not a crippled unusable salesman of the professional version. It shares the same browsing and management engine, and gives many rival professional file managers a run for their money — literally! It is a complete little file manager, albeit lacking a bit in bells and whistles.


The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

The last line from Animal Farm, by George Orwell

Bissantz SparkMaker

SparkMaker is an add-in for Microsoft® Office that creates sparklines (mini-graphs) to visualize numerical data in dashboards, spreadsheets, reports and presentations created with Excel®, Word® and PowerPoint®. SparkMaker 4 uses a new "minimized-clicks" approach which helps you automatically condense your data into sparklines.

SparkMaker comes in three different editions with varying features: Free, Basic and Pro. During the trial period (30 days after initial installation) you can experience the full functionality of SparkMaker as it is available in the Pro edition. After the trial version has expired, some features of SparkMaker are disabled. The remaining feature set constitutes the Free edition.


Tuesday, 7 August 2007


WinOrganizer is a full-scale personal information manager (PIM) that helps you organize and plan your business and personal life. It's a planner, notepad and address book combined in one powerful application.

The computer version of the organizer comprises all features of its paper prototype in a more comfortable way, which makes working with it quicker and easier. Its user-friendly interface combines all your notes, bookmarks, holidays, reminders, appointments, task lists, contacts, and passwords into a coherent tree outline form that can be customized as required. The data can be protected by password to limit the access to your personal information. Now you won't miss a single holiday or your friend's birthday; you will be able to track everyday tasks and, what's more, the program will notify you of the upcoming events and tasks.

In addition, like in a usual organizer, Notes powered by MS Word-like rich-text tools perfectly suit for keeping various information such as notes, recipes, famous quotations, tables, pictures, Web-links, and even entire pages from the Internet.


VLC media player

VLC - the cross-platform media player and streaming server

VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

Go to source: VLC media player - Overview

Conan Doyle's Knighthood

In the 1902 publication entitled, The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Conduct, Conan Doyle responded to all of the charges leveled against the British. For example, he declared that the “concentration camps” were really refugee camps that the government of Great Britain was duty bound to create. Housing was needed for the women and children displaced during the war. He admitted that the mortality rate in the camps was high. However he pointed out that this was because of disease rather than bad treatment. Many British troops died from the same cause and so Conan Doyle reasoned that the civilians in the camps were being treated at least as well as Great Britain treated its own troops.

While Conan Doyle called his work a “pamphlet” it was actually around sixty thousand words in length. Amazingly, he completed the work in only eight days.

The work was a success. It was widely read and public opinion about Great Britain’s conduct in the Boer Was softened. As a result of this contribution to his country’s welfare Conan Doyle was notified that King Edward VII wanted to make him a knight bachelor.