Blog!ARU: Archive

Entries For December 2003


Wed 31st Dec 2003 22:08 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.
Snowy street scene

Oooh, it's snowing! I haven't seen this stuff in two years (since Bath hardly used to get snow).

The picture is my street tonight. Adjusting flat cap, "Aye, it's grim oop north."

I'm currently feeling unshaven
[ modified 31st December 2003 23:21 BST ]

First Light for DiMAGE S414

01:47 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

The constellation of Orion taken with Minolta DiMAGE S414 [197KB], best viewed against a completely black background with no browser visible. 4s exposure at F3 simulating ISO400 film, hence it's very grainy. It's had a despeckle filter applied (to remove some of the thermal noise) and been cropped and resized to 1024 by 1214 px. You can also see a chunk of Taurus (the V-shape at upper right) and the spot for M42 (the Orion Nebula)

Below is the third photo I took with the camera after taking it out of the box, very heavily cropped and resized to 50%. It was taken on auto-everything at 4x optical zoom through a double-glazed window late in the afternoon!

Moon with a seagull in the foreground on a TV aerial
Moon and Seagull

A Rubbish Fire

Tue 30th Dec 2003 19:32 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Bit of excitement for a cold Tuesday evening. I'd just come back from the barber's and was walking passed the end of a "back lane" when I noticed a smallish rubbish fire in the lane beside the wall of a house, so called the fire brigade out to deal with it. A rather strange experience phoning the fire brigade and not what I thought it would be like at all — this being the first time I'd ever dialled 999. After being put through to a fire brigade controller someone in a voice not dissimilar from my own spoke my mobile phone number back to me. I know they know what my number is and exactly where I'm calling from via mast-triangulation, bit it seemed odd that when I really wanted to tell them where the fire was someone else really wanted to very patiently remind me of my phone number! (I know, I assume it's to make dozy hoaxers think twice).

Anyway, I said where the fire was, but they didn't want to know who I was or what address I lived at, just where the fire was. A few minutes later an engine turned up, they ran a hose up to the fire and gave it a good spraying down. I hung around in case someone asked "Who phoned the fire brigade?" but no-one did, so I just left and came home. I'm guessing they think they know who I am via my mobile phone record, but 1. The phone is not actually mine (it's a "hand-me-down") and so probably registered in someone else's name! and 2. I've just moved house anyway.

Bit of an anti-climax.

In other news my digital camera arrived today, and I've been playing around taking pictures of things in twilight, if I manage any interesting shots with it I might post a few here.

Bath In A Spin

Mon 29th Dec 2003 02:30 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

As a follow-up to Morning Panorama (Feb 14th, 2002) I notice that they've added some more panoramic shots, and very recently judging by the look of Bath in them. Seems strange to me to see such vividly familiar sights, to know what they really look, sound and smell (!) like but to also know that I'm not going to be going back there in the New Year. As if I'm at my parents home in Darlington for a holiday, and not because I've really uprooted and moved away from Bath for good!

PMS Reminder

01:08 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

This would've been very useful when I was living in a shared flat in Newcastle: PMS Alert [via B3ta]

Also on B3ta: Clients Are Stupid

Wheely Quiet

Sat 27th Dec 2003 17:48 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

The Whispering Wheel [Radio Nederland]

A new Dutch invention can make cars, busses and other vehicles no less than 50 percent more efficient and thus more environmentally friendly. Better still, the technology is already available; it all comes down to a smart combination of existing systems.
I'm currently feeling fine

Go Beagle 2 / Mars Express!

Thu 25th Dec 2003 00:12 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Frequent updates on Beagle 2s progress as it attempts to survive the descent to the surface of Mars:

Articles / Links:

Pants. That'll be a one-all draw then Colin in your two-match away leg.

[ modified 27th December 2003 1:58 BST ]

Beats Cliff Richard Anyway

Tue 23rd Dec 2003 19:57 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Music to put you in the mood for Christmas: Chipmunks Roasting On An Open Fire []

Talking Shop: Digital Cameras

Mon 22nd Dec 2003 23:44 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

My landlord has been kind enough to return to me the full bond I paid up front for my flat, this combined with an voucher I received from work as my leaving gift plus some money from my birthday last week means that after Christmas I think I'll go ahead and buy a digital camera. The money from the returned bond is not really part of the budget for the camera, but it all coming back to me means that other money in the bank I'd saved before I left work isn't going to get dipped into as much as it might have been. Anyway, I'm probably going to budget ~£200 with a ~£25 margin on top of that just in case. The budget here is just for the camera itself and does not include the expected additional 128MB/256MB memory card and NiMh batteries. Hopefully the New Year sales will help with the cost!

What do I want to use it for?

  • Landscapes (variable lighting conditions)
  • Twilight shots
  • Occasionally: Macro
  • Holiday snaps and general outdoor!

So, I think my requirements are:

  • At least 3 million pixels (assuming a ratio of 3:4 that gives a canvas of 2000px x 1500px)
  • A variable speed shutter with manual option would be very nice for the twilight shots
  • Auto focus would probably be nice, a manual override would be good as well
  • Variable brightness LCD viewer, at least 1.5 inch diagonal. Variable to mainly aid battery consumption but also so as not to blind myself when taking twilight shots!
  • Takes AA-size rechargable batteries (so it has to be able to cope with 1.2V vs 1.5V)
  • USB PC connector
  • Zoom is not a priority, especially if the zoom is pixel interpolation by the camera hardware since I could use a software paint package to do the same!
  • Option to disable flash
  • Macro would be very nice
  • All-auto mode option for simple use, but with ability to use manual settings if desired
  • Any pre-packaged image viewing or processing software would not likely be used because I have my own preferences
  • Not too small or light
  • Good build quality
  • Positive feeling controls that are not too small or fiddly
  • Intelligent controls and operation

Cameras I've researched:

This is the first time I've bought a decent camera, let alone a digital one, so any advice or suggestions appreciated!

OK, made my mind up and it's the Minolta S414 that I've gone for in the end. I've spent a lot of time reading things like and, and whilst these hinted to me the Minolta S414, it was user sites displaying S414 shots like this that confirmed it. It'll be at least the 3rd January before it arrives! :o(

I'm currently feeling tired
[ modified 27th December 2003 22:09 BST ]

The Office

12:04 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.
My workmates and other animals
Smile! Most of the office in the pub on my last day at Future

New Photos of Bath Added

Sun 21st Dec 2003 18:02 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

I've just added another 20 photos to the photo gallery. They're all taken with a very cheap, out of focus, 35mm camera that has a poor lens. Each one is painstakingly scanned, cropped, colour adjusted, resized, sharpened, converted to a JPEG and uploaded, then rotated (sometimes) and resized to 72px by 52px and uploaded again for the thumbnail view. A few have turned out alright, the new ones are mixed in with older ones, but are mainly to do with the immediate area around the flat I used to live in in Marlborough Buildings, Bath.

Montage of Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, Queen Square and Royal Avenue

One day I hope to be able to afford a digital camera, so that should mean better framed shots and faster turn-over times from exposure to appearing in the gallery.

New Blog

01:15 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Blog entries to do with web programming, or thereabouts, have been migrated to WebTech - my cheesily named web programming blog. Any links out there in the big blue yonder to entries in this 'old' blog that have been moved to the new blog will be redirected automatically to prevent broken web pages. I could do with a better name for the other blog if anyone can suggest something — WebTech just sounds pants!

I'm currently feeling blase

Festive Flakes of … Coffee

Fri 19th Dec 2003 00:18 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

The first coffee-flavoured breakfast cereal: Café au Lait.

An innovative new cereal to combine your morning coffee with breakfast. Light aromatic coffee flavoured wheat flakes combined with crisp rice flakes and yoghurt-coated cornflakes.

The down side is that if you're pretty much allergic to any food then this product will kill you. Allergic reactions aside, it is a high salt, high sugar and not exactly low fat food as well. Should sell well over here then, if it makes it (it's from New Zealand). Another quality regurgitation via Slashdot, the link that is, not the product.

Good News Microburst

Thu 18th Dec 2003 22:49 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Just for a change, some good news in the, erm, news:

All stories at BBC Newsonline.

Leader of the Free World

19:44 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Leader of the Free World [Wired Magazine]

How Linus Torvalds became benevolent dictator of Planet Linux, the biggest collaborative project in history.

Not much to the article but interesting nevertheless.

Goodbye Sunshine

18:48 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

The Guardian has an article highlighting a few decades worth of research that indicates that the 'quantity' of sunlight received at the Earth's surface is decreasing: Goodbye Sunshine. [ via Slashdot]

I'm currently feeling chilly

"A Dangerous and Erotic Story"

01:51 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Just noticed that someone came to this blog after searching for "andrew urquhart" + "accident" + "saturday" — I do hope that's not a threat!

Actually because I'm paranoid I followed that search link and found a film script where one of the lead characters (third in rank) is called, erm, Andrew Urquhart: Leila [DOC filetype] or use Google's HTML version.

The 'style' of the script is:

In the tradition of 'DANGEROUS LIAISONS', but a contemporary story leavened with dark humour.

A dangerous and erotic story with an undertow of black humor until going 'to the end of the line' in an operatic and film noir conclusion.

Damn, if only truth were stranger than fiction!. Here's the Synopsis of the character:


He's the young hero whose experience is our point-of-view throughout the story. We may start to perceive more than he does, but mostly see nothing that he does not see.

Two years out of University, ANDREW is working for Sir Harry Grovesnor as an executive trainee. It's a promising job - Sir Harry's mentorship offering the inside running to a privileged career. Andrew's family are proud of his achievements.

He's the elder of two children, the only son. Much was sacrificed to put him through Melbourne Grammar. He was popular there, a good athlete and a good student, too. He has kept up his best sport - rowing - in companionship with his best friend, JERRY. They row double sculls together, on the Yarra near Southgate. They run to the river from the flat they share in East Melbourne.

ANDREW has always performed well. Thus he's still an innocent: easy-going and honest. Life has not hurt him at all. But it's about to - savagely. ANDREW experiences passion for the first time when he falls fatally in love with the lovely, magnetic, LEILA. He is wide open to damage - a babe in the woods.
He suffers damage - and his character is warped by it.

All quotes from, written by Roger Dunn and © QED Productions Pty Ltd August 2000 Registered with Write Safe USA

Winner: Becker Entertainment (Australia) Inaugural Writers' Competition '97

I'm 23+, a couple of years out of University, an only son, would like to try rowing and would like to passionately fall in love with the lovely, magnetic, LEILA. Blimey, I'm off to read the story!

Just gotten around to reading that screenplay — blimey, that's a bit more than I bargained for!

I'm currently feeling spooked
[ modified 18th December 2003 18:43 BST ]

Divorced Blog

Tue 16th Dec 2003 23:37 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Just wondering if I should create another blog and move the techie stuff from this to the new one. Blog!ARU would then be the irreverent and witty one (cough) and the other would be the one that nobody would read. Any thoughts?

I'm currently listening to I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue

Browser Wars

Sun 14th Dec 2003 02:45 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Love Browser Wars, it's a variation on a theme of this old classic, I'm doing my best for Opera 7! Actually I really must get around to finishing my version off with a scoring system, score board and player turn toggling.

I'm currently feeling like it's my birthday today, just as well then

Strewth Bob

Thu 11th Dec 2003 14:37 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

I keep seeing the BBC Newsonline headline ticker blurting "Battery charge for Bobby Brown" or sometimes "Bobby Brown charged with battery", which I can't help sniggering at.

Whilst I'm being silly, there's also the story of the two suspects who were filmed doing twice the speed limit in western Australia whilst wearing KKK hats.

Officers vowed to catch the perpetrators, saying it was a dangerous stunt designed to taunt police.

… only for the perpetrators to turn out to be two of their own police officers in an unmarked car.

Mental Exercise

Wed 10th Dec 2003 13:53 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

See the newspaper cutting at the bottom of this page: Good, I need to do more exercise now that I'm not walking to and from work 4 times a day.

I'm currently feeling fine

Faster, Cleaner WiFi

00:19 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Engrish Ressons

Tue 9th Dec 2003 14:51 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Engrish — check out the 'candy' section with Koedastick:

A lovely and tiny twig KOEDA
The sentimental taste is cozy for the heroines in the town.

"Creamy Ball" and "Chocolate Collon" were seen in the Rude Food post a couple of days ago.

Fan & Ball

Mon 8th Dec 2003 02:23 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Fan & Ball is brilliant to play and illustrates some excellent physics [requires Shockwave] [via B3ta]

More Than You Bargained For

Sun 7th Dec 2003 13:49 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

Had the old cable-modem line reconnected on Friday, and after the problem where NTL's registration process fell over for 6 hours finally got the connection running. First impression of the 150kbs-1 connection was "Hmmn, this is good, was my BT 512kbs-1 ADSL line so bad?". I downloaded Mozilla Thunderbird 0.4 just now and realised that my download data rate was ~70kBs-1, which translates to a ~600kbs-1 service and not the lesser 150kbs-1 one I'm paying for. I think I'll wait and see what the bill is before doing something about it!

Ack, I'm too honest, I emailed them to tell them they'd given me the wrong service and they've dropped me down to 150kbs-1. Hmmn, this sucks a bit! I want my 600kbs-1 back! :o/

[ modified 12th December 2003 23:15 BST ]

Rude Food

Sat 6th Dec 2003 23:34 BST by Andrew from Darlington, U.K.

More "Grated Fanny" Vicar?.

I'm currently feeling cold

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