More podcasts from the man and the desk

Now I am back in the saddle with regular contributions to CNIRadio you can catch up with my ramblings at One Man & His Desk – The Podcast
n the latest recording you can find out about the Gyroscopic Self Levelling Pool Table and much more.

Listen now.

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The LUG Slug

Is there any wonder people are put off by switching to linux (rhetorical question). How can I convince people to take a tour of the linux world when the Linux User Group (at least for the North West) is so out of date and … well quite frankly, rubbish.
I have been looking for an active linux user group in the area and here’s what I got from the two potentially closest, first Lancaster, the LUG directory entry last updated in January 2010:

Template Error: The template file must be given

And for Cumbria, the last update for which was December two years ago, it simply takes you to a page belonging to the group’s coordinator with a one-liner advertising his business.

Come on linux users – “must do better”

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Masterful thinking – so full of surprises

Seldom do I ask people to watch/listen to things on the internet (knowing that I don’t want too many reciprocal demands) but I can’t help myself here. This is my favourite TED presentation to date:

(thanks to Keith Edmunds for bringing it to my attention)

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Moody – My latest 8tracks

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Top of google – Data recovery done best – Not!

Hard Drive Data Recovery – No Data No fee. 15yrs exp.
ISO 9001 Student/Non-Company Discounts.

And here’s the link result:

Microsoft VBScript runtime error ‘800a0005’

Invalid procedure call or argument: ‘left’

/keyword_capture.asp, line 11

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Orange turns blue (well my language nearly did)

Beginning with yet another mobile phone mast outage (the price you pay for rural living) I was surprised to discover I had no signal when I went to town. A quick visit to the Orange shop led the ‘specialist’ to determine that my phone was broken. Despite it being 3 days out of warranty (call me unlucky Alf) I made a call to Orange myself (since the store staff wouldn’t do it) and they decided to send me a replacement. A couple of hours later they called to say that there was no need as my phone had been blocked. It took me a few more calls to find out why. Coincidentally at the same time as the mast outage (over 3 days), one person in London had managed to bypass Orange security and order a new phone (on a new 24 month contract), whilst a second person in a completely different place (Dagenham) had managed to order a replacement for a lost phone.  Both were trapped in the system (though I was never contacted to inform me that my account may have been compromised).

Now the only way I discovered all this was because I just received a letter two weeks after the event welcoming me to  my new contract which I thought was somewhat odd, especially as it had gone up by £15 per month.
I tried to sign in online and my password didn’t work. It turns out that someone had reset it. Worse than that I was able to reset it myself over the phone with very basic information – name, address, date of birth and one other simple piece of information from the pool of questions.

My case is currently under investigation since I have also been charged for a new handset (which Orange have kindly refunded), but the lesson is simple:

Get yourself equipped with a secure password system such as lastpass ( and make sure you tighten up where the service provider may exhibit poor telephone security.

Call your provider, reset your password and make sure that they flag it on the system to disallow the bypassing of a password using any other means.


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Google arithmetic not quite up to scratch

My gmail inbox has this at the top right:

1 – 21 of 20

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Bored to tears

I have a ‘homecare’ policy that covers emergencies such as electrical failure, heating breakdown etc and having discovered that my water system was no longer covered I decided to cancel the policy. I explained the “customer care representative” that in our remote location, the bore hole and/or well with the appropriate electrical system to pump water to the house, had been removed from their cover and that each time I tried to talk to someone about it they had no idea what a bore hole or a well was (fair enough, they don’t live in the hills, but I would have expected them to have had something of an education).
The ‘rep’ asked me if there was any way to keep me as a customer, to which my response was “yes, reinstate the cover for my bore hole equipment”. He said that couldn’t be done as it wasn’t in the terms and conditions but he would give me a discounted add-on for just £1 per month to cover the first 7 metres of water pipe to the water main.
I politely pointed out that I lived one mile from the mains water system and that my instinct told me that he hadn’t understood a word I’d been saying.
It was perhaps a shame that the call centre wasn’t located in a developing country where they would have been right on the ball !

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Orange (the future may not be so bright)

In the latest personalised email to me (Lee) from Orange, it starts:

Dear Gary,

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Procreation checklist

Procreation checklist

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