Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ivor Cutler - Good Morning

Thursday, February 16, 2006


So, my sister brought dishonour to our family name this week by appearing on live quiz show, Brainteaser, on Channel 5 and not coming away with a pile of cash. Still I'm sure we can forgive her.

Anyway, I've transferred the VHS recording of the show onto my PC, having edited out all the non-Catherine bits and have uploaded it here. The whole show in its entirety is 1 hour long and every 3 minutes they move away from the action to try to convince the viewers to call into a premium rate line to do a supremely easy quiz. I've saved you from that evil with my editing.

I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say, "didn't she do well?"

Monday, February 13, 2006

This is Loads of Fun!!!

Hello Dave Martin Lawrence,
How are you doing today?Thanks for your response to my mail and the information provided.You can be rest assured that it will be kept very confidential.Your online transit account has been opened and duly activated so you are adviced to login to our website.

Then to view and access your online account click on this link:


Then you will be required to type in your account number and password which is given below:

Account Number:11621147

Password :15887217

An online transit account is not like any other regular account.Once is has been activated, it is valid for a minimum of 30days and it is assumed that within this period of time, you ought to have transferred your lotterywinnings to your nominated account. I will be having a meeting concerning the transfer of your lotterywinnings to your nominated account with the international transfer officers and the internal revenue department by noon tomorow.

I know that they will charge you for cost of transfer (COT) and insurance to transfer your lotterywinnings to your nominated account.I do not know how much for sure but by the end of the meeting,i will be able to give you a definite feedback on this issue.Once they confirm your payment and you have been cleared by them , then you will be issued a transfer clearance code to facilitate the transfer of your lotterywinnings to your nominated account. Meanwhile, you have been adviced to send down the details of your nominated account to enable us confirm your account before any transfer is effected.We await to hear from you urgently.Have a nice day and congratulations once again.

Richard Palkowski
Accounts Director.

+44 2070600487

Please feel free to login to their ever-so-professional "secure" site and help yourself to any of the £1,500,000 they've put in there for me.

I'm contemplating writing to him and telling him that either:

1. I'm becoming a monk and no longer wish to handle money. Please can he distribute my winnings to charities.

2. His job seems ever so boring. Would he like my winnings instead of me?

Lottery Update - Oooh!

So, I received the next email in the "You've Won the Lottery!!!" series:

Hello Dave Lawrence,
How are you doing today? We have recieved your details from your fudiary agent that you have been cleared for payment of your lottery claims to you.

Please endeavour to fill the accounts details below and get back to us soonest so that we can open an account for you.Have a nice day and we await your urgent response.

Full Name:
Phone Number:
Mobile Number:
Fax Number:
Type Of Account:

Note: You have also been adviced to fill online transit account under the section of type of Account.

Thanks for your co-operation.

Richard Palkowski
Accounts Director
+44 2070600487.

I've responded with the required information, kind of.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

So, What Am I Up To Today?

Well, this morning I got one of the classic "you've won the lottery!" emails. This one claimed to be from the actual National Lottery and so, in my boredom, I thought I'd respond....from a bogus email address.

They wanted my name (I gave them Dave Lawrence), my phone number (I gave them the number of an old pay-as-you-go phone that I used to own (I still have access to the voicemail)), my fax number (I have a free Lycos fax-to-email account) and my "winning ticket number and serial number" that the original email had given me.

Anyhoo, I'm excited to report that their representative, "Arnold Brent" emailed me the following:

Hello Dave Lawrence,

How are you doing today?Thanks for your response to the winning notification that was sent to you.Congratulations once again on your victory,you are a lucky person to have won this lottery.Your email address was randomly selectly via our cyber email selection machine.This event is done annually and it ia a promotional event to assist the less privileged worldwide.Thanks for the information provided. Please be rest assured that it will be kept very confidential.Attached below is a copy of your certificate and your clearance slip to collect your money from our affiliate cashcentre . The certificate is like a confirmation that you have been cleared by us and that you have met the necessary requirements. The certificate is like a cheque which is exchanged for your claims equivalent.I have forwarded your details and your original certificate to our affiliate cashcentre and they will contact you soonest. I will advice you to open an online transit account with our cashcentre so that your winnings can be transferred to your nominated account. The cashcentre will contact you to give you more details to open your transit account. So endeavour to get back to me as soon as you have been contacted so that i can give you further advice as your agent.Have a nice day and congratulations once again.


Mr Arnold Brent.

This highly articulately written email came with the following "certificate" to reassure me of its authenticity:

I look forward to hearing from the cashcentre.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My Computer History (Ish)

OK, I've just written the following post for a thread on UKNova, and it's so long that I feel that I want to duplicate it here for posterity. Here we go!

My Dad bought "himself" a Spectrum 48k+ in early 1983. It wasn't long before I'd "adopted" it, and when the Spectrum + upgrade was released in 1984 we got rid of the rubber keyboard and replaced it with the proper plastic keyboard that made it feel like a real computer.

As this machine wasn't strictly mine, I got myself a ZX81 with 16k RAMpack and the old classic thermal printer, but soon sold this on as it seemed so poor in comparison to the relative power of the Spectrum.

For a birthday a few years later my parents upgraded me to the Spectrum +2, now with 128k of memory and multi-channel sound. That was joy for a while until I finally convinced them to buy me a Commodore Amiga 500, including an external floppy drive (DF1) and extra 1/2MB of RAM (£150!!!). This was one of the most joyous periods in my computer owning history. Playing wonderful games with fantastic sound, ordering public domain discs at about £1 a go, watching glorious 3d ray-tracing demos with awesome music, fighting off the Byte Bandit virus that threatened to destroy every floppy I had in my "lockable" floppy disk boxes with broken lids. Unfortunately that era was cut short very suddenly when a friend spilt a can of lager into the machine. I sent it back to the company I'd bought it from to get it repaired (Dowling), but after chasing them for a month I found out that they had gone bust and reopened under a different name (Dow). I was angry and upset.

Now around this time my mum worked as a graphic designer, and used Apple Macs for her work. Somehow, I can't remember how, she obtained for me an Apple Macintosh Plus. Unfortunately this machine was a little pants and, despite my brother obtaining some strange pornographic floppy discs for it for me, it soon fell into disuse.

The next few years were relatively devoid of any real computer use. We had Sega Master Systems and Megadrives, but I couldn't help thinking that these weren't real computers.

The mid-nineties brought me, first of all, another Apple Mac, however this was, as much as I didn't want to admit it at the time, as pants as its predecessor. Fortunately, the mid-nineties also brought me a 386!!! Suddenly I felt like I was back in the real world again; familiar territory. I got to know the PC. I played with Windows 3.11, but didn't really like it. I learned DOS. I played with Dr SBAITSO that came with my Soundblaster 16. However, as Windows 95 came out, along with the Pentium processor, they seemed sadly just out of my reach.

But then in 1997 two things happened:

1: My cousin, Graham, bought himself a proper PC: a Pentium MMX 233Mhz with 64Mb of RAM, an AWE32 Soundblaster, ATI Rage Graphics, a 15" CTX monitor, 6.4GB hard-drive and 56K K-Flex modem. He didn't live me with at the time, but we soon rectified this.

2: I got on the internet at home. I remember reading through a few PC magazines looking at ISPs and phoned a few that were based at least slightly local to me and found one - Waverider - who agreed that I could go over to them on the bus (quite a way) and collect the installation disks. This I did. It was a whole day trip with Graham, but after acquiring a 19.2kbps modem, attaching it to my 386 and installing the floppys (45 minutes due to dodgy floppy drive) I was on!

The next year or so consisted of repeatedly breaking Graham's PC and reinstalling it. Each time I did this I learned something new about it. I even opened it up a few times and probed about inside, losing any traces of circuit-board phobia. One day, however, the integrated sound card on his PC died whilst we were playing Age of Empires (oh glory be) and, well, I don't know what we did about that...

I also remember around this time "ripping" a CD onto Graham's PC. It was just the one track - "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See" by Busta Rhymes, and it took up 30MB on his hard disk. I clearly remember thinking how wondrous it would be if you could put all of your music onto your PC, but that it surely could never be practical at 30MB a track...

When 1998 came I finally convinced my wife to let me buy myself a proper PC. I can still remember almost shaking with excitement. Unfortunately the branch of Comet we visited had sold out of the model I could afford and my wife somehow failed to appreciate that this meant that we would HAVE TO drive to the next nearest branch to collect it from there IMMEDIATELY. Can you believe that she seriously suggested that we wait a few days until this branch got some more in stock and could deliver it? It's no wonder we're divorced now. I should have seen it coming. Oh wait, I kind of did.

Anyway, this machine was a kind of Pentium 2 equivalent Daewoo with a Cyrix 333 processor, 32MB of RAM (ew!) and a 3.2GB dodgy hard-drive. But, it did its job. It brought me up to date and was in essence a better and faster machine than Graham's, which was all that really mattered.

So began the quest to always have the fastest and most powerful machine out of everyone I knew. Something I think I've maintained to this very day.

Anyway, the next few years consisted of many different upgrades at different times. In fact, occasionally the PC would stop working, and I'd use this as an excuse to go out and buy a new motherboard, processor, RAM and hard drive. Then, when we'd get home I'd discover that the problem had just been a blown fuse. This happened on 2 or 3 occasions, and cost several hundred pounds each time. Yep, I definitely should have seen that divorce on the horizon. Different priorities, you see?

Also in 1998, me and some friends (hi Paul and Graham!) started a video production company. We then bought the most expensive computer in the history of the world, or at least my world. It was a blue and white Apple Macintosh G3 400Mhz with 2 blue and white monitors, 384MB RAM, extra graphics card, massive 18GB external RAID drive in unbelievably loud self-cooling case, and a £2,500 Octopus DV capture card. Along with Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects and a Canon XL1 DV camera, the whole caboodle came to just short of £16,000. Holy crap indeed. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago I dropped the G3 down the stairs (by accident!) and watched it explode in a cloud of dust at the bottom. The XL1 is still alive and well and living with Paul. It's a little senile now, but still managed to record the Lump and a Mullet video.

Anyway, the year 2000 came, and with it a conversation I will never forget. A friend of mine, let's call him Phil (for 'tis his name) told me about this thing called "mp3", and about how you could download songs in mp3 format from the internet, and they were only 1MB per minute, a far cry from the 30MB for the Busta Rhymes track just 3 years earlier. I went home and searched for mp3 music. I then downloaded my first 3 mp3 tracks:

Robbie Williams - Millennium
The Eagles - Hotel California
Natalie Imbruglia - Torn

I can't put into words how excited I became. I felt like a man standing on the cusp of two eras, two paradigms, two worlds even. Shortly after, I came across Napster and joined the merry throng of the not-really-buying-CDs-any-more internet community.

Then came January 2001. I had heard about BT trialing a service called ADSL that would enable incredible internet speeds over ordinary phone lines. I put my name down with them to subscribe to this when they rolled it out nationally. In fact, I must have put my name down half a dozen times, just to be sure. In January 2001 they contacted me to tell me that they could come and install it, and I agreed. Installation was £150 and the monthly fee was £39.99. I remember dropping into conversation with my wife that I'd ordered this, and she was like "you did what???". OK, maybe I should have mentioned it before, and maybe I shouldn't have brought it up in a room full of friends, but lets face it, it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to get it. I mean, what was the alternative? Not getting it??? To be honest I think this was the beginning of the end of our marriage.

The day they came to install it was one of the happiest of my life. It took about an hour as I stood by, shifting excitedly from foot to foot, asking annoying questions of the engineer and smoking furiously. When he'd done I saw him out, acting as cool, casual and breezy as I could. The second I shut the front door I belted to my PC and loaded Napster. I'd already done some maths in my head and had worked out that a 128kbps mp3 file wouldn't just download incredibly fast on a 512kbps connection, but, more than this, it would stream! As I said, I opened Napster and thought of a song to download - "Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd. I clicked download, it started, and I right-clicked the file and selected play. It had barely started downloading but it burst out of my speakers as triumpant as a messenger delivering the message of "we won the war" to his king.

I then became broadband's greatest ambassador; preaching it's benefits to all who would listen. I furiously tried to convince them that the period in history of connecting to the lighting fast web via a dialup connection would very soon be looked back on as laughable era. One by one their resistance fell away. Well, apart from my ex-wife, she just fell away all together.

Anyway, to bring this to a close my current setup is as follows:

PC 1 - The Joy Machine - for TV capture and general joy.

Pentium 4 3000Mhz
512MB DDR400 RAM
400GB harddrive
256MB PCI Express Card
Windows XP Home Media Center Edition
2 Digital TV Cards
32" LCD screen

PC 2 - Judith - for recording music and broadcasting UKNova Radio.

Athlon XP 2800+
60GB Hard Drive
120GB Hard Drive
M-Audio Audiophile Delta 2496 Sound Card
Hauppage Nova-T Digital TV Capture Card

That's all I have to say about that.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Isabelle Dinoire Shows Her Face

The first recipient of a face transplant, Isabelle Dinoire, has this morning appeared at a press conference in France.

It's a fantastically impressive piece of work, as you can see from the picture above. OK, so it's a big saggy and she can't talk 100%, but at least she can talk, and indeed smoke.

What's strange is, she found herself in the without-a-face due to a suicide attempt brought on by depression. Surely losing half your face and having it replaced with the face of a dead woman can only exaccerbate feelings of alienation and depression.

What I find appalling though, is that, against her wishes, they put down the dog that caused her the injury, despite the fact that it was trying to, and indeed succeeded to, save her life. That's pants.