Monthly Archives: July 2010


Anyone overdone the chillies?  Silly question, we’ve all breathed fire sometime in our lives, haven’t we?  And made the once-only mistake of rubbing the eyes with hands not quite as clean as we thought?  But what about burning the fingers?

My benchmark used to be the tiny little Thai chillies – or their African equivalents.  But since one of our local shops started selling the even-hotter scotch bonnet, I’ve taken to them.

Today I bought a big one, for a curry I was making to feed friends.  Chopped it up small, and as I was doing so felt a sharp pain in a finger.  At first I thought it must be a tiny (invisible) wound, but I’m not so sure any more.  Reacting to it brought heat and pain to the face too – aaargh!

The curry was meant to be hot, and turned out even hotter.  Now after it, the backs of my fingers are burning from the inside.  Even to look at they’re bright red, as of a nettle-rash or insect bite.  Now I see why they use chillies as chemical weapons, and use their essence to keep elephants out in parts of India and Bangladesh.  Yow!

Tavistock at war!!

There seems to be a lot going on this evening.

First a band starts up.  That is, an outdoor-style band.  I thought a brass band, but later heard something more like the drone of bagpipes played without a discernible tune.  Whatever else may have been there was overwhelmed by the relentless pounding of a big drum.  Ouch!

Next up, the tinny sound of something like an ice cream van on steroids, playing the most inane of tunes: “oh I do like to be beside the seaside” and “we’re all going on a summer holiday”.  When I say on steroids, I mean no ice cream van I’ve encountered could’ve been quite so loud.  It was playing concurrently with the pounding drum: indeed, the two seem to be in competition.

There were a couple of lesser contenders, but I can’t even bring them to mind any more (at this moment, there’s something including competing tannoys with shouting voices and other crap).  Probably just as well the mind has swept some of it away!  I think if I head up the road away from town, I may be able to escape it.  But the usual yobs club is due to start up at nine, too, so darkness won’t end the crap.



My ‘net connection was up and down like a yoyo yesterday, including during the ASF AGM (on IRC).  About 9:30 p.m. it gave up the ghost completely, and none of the usual quick&dirty fixes (like switching to another router) worked.

At first I thought it was just no DNS (as happens occasionally), but one of my routers has useful enough diagnostics to tell me there’s no connection.  The log shows PPPOA failing consistently with LCP timeout.

So ‘phone my ISP.  The man on support wants me to try various things: since I’ve already tried three different routers, I should jiggle all my wires, and try another ADSL filter, unplug everything else, ‘cos if they send a technician out to sort it and it turns out to be my gear that’s at fault, it’ll cost!  OK, ring off, find another filter, crawl under desks[1] to play with fiddly things in the wall, retest, iterate.

This morning, try same again.  Same result.  A little after half past seven, call ISP again.  This time the support guy thinks he recognises the problem, and should be able to deal with it himself.  All I need to do is unplug the router and leave it an hour.  Which is where I am now, blogging from the pocket-puter and contemplating whether to try and figure out connection sharing.  Dammit, before we had ADSL I did that as a matter of course with the ancient FreeBSD box attached to the ISDN!

Still perplexed by tethering via a ‘phone.  It’s supposed to be trivial, but seems to insist on using a ‘phone as a dumb modem, which is no use if you don’t have a dialup number and username/password for it.

[1] Behind the table I work at is another with things like printer, scanner, router on.  I have to crawl under both to access the ‘phone socket.

Scammers using the Apache name

This has cropped up a number of times, and probably deserves all the extra publicity it can get.

Someone calling itself “Apache Software Indonesia Foundation” with domains apparently including “” and “” is passing itself off as Apache, and selling DVDs and licenses that purport to be Apache software, to the extent of calling something “Apache HTTP server”.  Evidently they have successfully scammed someone (non-public mail received at the ASF indicates much more), and they appear still to be pushing the scam hard.

The simple lesson is, the real Apache Software Foundation owns the domain  Anything that isn’t [something] is not the ASF.  That includes similar domains that may include the word “apache”: treat this as a warning sign if the usage is not clear, and especially if a site offers to take your money.  It could also be a trademark infringement!

Of course there’s also a wide range of domains (including mine) that use “apache” in good faith: the best offer a great service (I won’t taint good guys by naming them in this post).  Below these there’s a mostly-harmless grey area.   This “Apache Indonesia” stands in what may be a class of its own as an outright scam.

Google vs Google

I’m not a regular user of Google Chrome, but I have it installed, and turn to it from time to time.

Recently I tried to use it with Google Maps.  It failed outright to load the page, complaining of errors in it.  Meanwhile other browsers[1] are fine with it.

Oh dear!

[1] at least Firefox, MicroB and Opera.  Not interested enough to turn it into a survey, but I recollect using at least those with Google Maps.


I thought we had some peace and quiet during the daytime, and my productivity had begun to rise.  Now the works are back, with a range of powertools, and the wall+road acting as a sounding-board to send it all straight up at me. 😦

Seems someone’s got a big works budget.  It’s not just the perpetual wall-works, but also the roads all around are getting some kind of resurface.  Well, all except the stretch of Mount Tavy road that could really do with resurfacing.  A lot of the roads now have loose surfaces, leaving one at risk of a skid, or of a stone thrown up into the eye from someone’s wheel.  The scariest stretch I’ve done is coming down Pork Hill: it’s normally steep and fast (and the surface was perfectly good), but now with the half-arsed new surface it proclaims a 15mph speed limit – about 40 below what one would naturally do by just letting go and freewheeling.

Oh, and I can confirm observationally that dartmoor ponies are rather brighter than people in town centres.  That is to say, when one of them was standing blocking a small bridge, she reacted a d*** site faster to a polite ‘scuse me please than humans blocking a narrow way are capable of.

To the Tower

Since my student days, it’s been a very minor regret that I never lived up the college tower.  Two of my friends did (in different years), and visiting them was … just a little bit different.

Having been roped in to visit Cambridge at the end of this month, it would’ve seemed a shame not to go back to Girton.  So I’ve booked a room there.  And they offered me a room in the tower, which they tell me has recently been refurbished and now offers en-suite rooms!

The big question: will revisiting after such a long time be nostalgic, or a great big anticlimax?

New month, all change

After a month and a half of hot, dry weather, we’ve finally got some serious rain, and more forecast.  It’s still pretty warm (and muggy), but now with a bit of luck the big swathes of brown on the moors will revert to a healthy green, and the decline in the reservoirs will be halted.  We’re a long, long way from the summer floods of the last couple of years, but at least we’re no longer on course for a possible drought.

Wonder if it’s enough to make the river locally a more exciting swim?