Saturday, 28 August 2010

Changing Directory in a Windows Command Box

I've found that with a Vista machine the cd command in a command box won't change directory from one drive to another, so If I open a command box on Drive C - where the command prompt in accessories always opens it, I can't get to any folder on drive D, though cd D:\ does not produce an error signal. It does provoke an error signal if I try to move to a non-existent folder on drive D, but not if I try to move to a folder that is there, so there seems to be a sort of unconscious awareness of drive D

The only way I can open a command box that can get at Drive D is to go to drive D and run a batch file from there, and then that command box can't (consciously?) see Drive C.

I wonder what proportion of Windows users know what a batch file is ?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Unalarming Alarms

Today I made one of my rare visits to the Library - these days it seems to have very few books that I want to read. I borrowed two not preposterously out of date books about JavaScript and Perl.

As soon as I went into a shop, the shoplifter alarm went off, and it did so again as I left. I remembered that that often happens when one takes library books into a shop. No one appeared to take any interest in the alarm; I suppose they are used to false alarms.

I wonder why they bother with the alarm systems.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Jam and Cable Modems

I've just looked at the last three months statistics for this blog and find that the most popular subject was making jam with brown sugar, and the runner up was cable modems.

About 13% of 'hits' were on the page about jam making, and 8% were one one or the other of the pages about cable modems.

I'm not sure what, if anything, to make of that, so I'll leave it my readers to make suggestions.

Monday, 23 August 2010


A week or so ago I saw something most unusual - a cyclist using a cycle path.

I don't mean that cyclists shun cycle paths where they are available, just that the roads with cycle paths are not the ones cyclists normally use.

When I see cyclists it is usually just after a near miss, when they cycle past me on the pavement, having provided no audible signal of their approach. Can't cyclists use bells ? or don't today's cycles have them ?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Fruit on the Isaac Newton tree.

After waiting for 15 years, I have at last a moderate crop of fruit on my Isaac Newton tree.

The variety is actually Flower of Kent, but the tree itself is a clone of the one underneath which Isaac Newton is said to have been inspired to hypothesise universal gravitation. So far as I know Flower of Kent is only grown by people wanting a clone of Newton's famous tree.

I have cooked a few apples that fell off and approve the flavour, very fruity and even sharper than Bramley. They cook well to a dense pulp, which was delicious when sweetened with soft brown sugar.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A Treacherous Percentage

I try to avoid television advertisements, devoting advertising breaks to calls of nature and minor domestic tasks, but every so often I catch something about some concoction that is supposed to 'kill 99.9% of germs'.

I once read that bacteria can reproduce every half hour. At that rate of reproduction, a colony of bacteria diminished by 99.9% would be restored to its original strength in only five hours. The statistically impressive slaughter may amount to less than naive users might hope.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Action or Inaction

In the course of a recent broadcast discussion of a new curriculum for Scottish schools, someone I took to be a representative of a teachers' union mentioned a possibility of what he called 'industrial action'. I think he meant a strike.

Schools are not industrial, and striking consists of abstaining from work, so 'non-industrial inaction' would be a much better term.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Our Versatile Post Office

Twice recently I've had letters from the Post Office asking me to let it arrange life insurance for me.

The Post Office is an organisation owned by the government, and originally set up by past governments which gave it a monopoly of postal services in the hope of making it easier for government officials to spy on our mail. The Post Office still retains a monopoly on delivering mail cheaply.

Whatever is it doing dabbling in the Insurance market? I doubt if it has any relevant expertise.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Mr. S. Hughes

As he's Vice-Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Party, I'm surprised how luke-warm he sounds when discussing the coalition.

I've long had reservations about Hughes. There is a humourless moral earnestness about him, and there is something strange about a gay man being swept into parliament on a wave of homophobia, even though he did not create it.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Mr. Blair's Generosity

I can't resist the temptation to contribute to the speculation about Mr. Blair's donation of his royalties to The British Legion.

Most commentators seem to have overlooked the possibility that he cares about the plight of disabled ex-servicemen, but there might still be other thoughts at the back of his mind.

If I were in his position I should expect my donation to set a precedent which might make it hard for other writers of memoirs to keep their royalties, and I gather that Mr. G. Brown's memoirs are on the way. How amusing if Brown wanted to keep his royalties but felt constrained to give them away.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The Unpleasantly Tribal Mr. Burnham

Mr. A Burnham, a lagging candidate for the Labour Leadership, has just denounced Mr. A. Milburn for agreeing to advise the Government on social mobility. His proffered reason seemed to be on the lines 'we are the Labour gang, so we don't talk to people in other gangs."

As the Labour party led the attack on the grammar schools which used to be one of the principal engines of social mobility, it is understandable that party members should be sensitive about social mobility, but I wish they could expiate their guilt less destructively.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

A Confession from a Variably Energetic Blogger.

During the last year or so I've noticed that I seem to alternate between extreme laziness and at least moderate activity.

For a day or two, apart from a little reading which I rarely neglect, I'll do little but potter around the web, then there'll be a period when I blog, bring my web site up to date, garden and make jam. Then I lapse back into idleness.

That explains why contributions to this blog come in clusters.

Monday, 9 August 2010

David Cameron

Ever since he became Conservative leader I've felt uneasy about Cameron.

As opposition leader he seemed unnecessarily strident. When he shouted at the then prime minister in the house of commons, I sometimes felt for Gordon Brown a sympathy that I suspect Brown did not deserve. I should have liked more humour and subtlety, and less self righteous ranting.

Recently I've detected a worrying impulsiveness. His remark about Pakistan's hospitality to terrorists may have been carefully calculated as part of some cunning plan, but it sounded as if it just popped out, and I see no excuse for his recent declaration that no one should even examine the merits of free milk for nursery school children. Demanding cuts, and then objecting when people discuss the possibilities is absurd.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Surprised by a Network

Ever since I bought a new PC last year I've been plucking up courage to network it to my laptop. I even bought a special cable. Yet I held back, fearing that something I did to the IP settings would disable Internet access.

Then I recalled that people say that wireless router automatically sets up a network, so I created on each computer a folder that is shared, and discovered that each computer could see the other computer's folder.

There's only one shared folder on each computer. I use them only for transferring files from one machine to the other, so most of the time both are empty, because as soon as I put something in to the special folder on one machine, I remove it into the bowels of the other machine. Thus any miscreant who somehow penetrated the network would probably see just two empty folder, and if they did find anything it would probably just be a revised chapter of my Philosophy notes, which are available to all on my website.

No longer need I swap flash drives every time I want to move a file from one machine to the other.

I love it when an apparent problem just dissolves.