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David Cooke

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December 1st, 2011

09:58 am - I don't do this often, but
The UK government collects "National Insurance" from employees and employers, and some also pay into the state pension scheme. For public sector pensions the government conveniently "manages" the whole thing. Do you imagine that:

A. The treasury has a big pile of money/securities/precious metals/vintage wines/first edition comics in a vault with a big sign saying "Pension Pot: Hands Off"


B. The contributions have already been spent to rebuild the post war economy, give tax breaks to the rich or poor, fund vanity projects, prop up failing nationalised industries, engage in largely pointless sabre rattling, and generally buy votes and line pockets.

Have a think about that. What would a politician do?

If you are a public sector worker, you've basically loaned your entire retirement fund to the state, those governments _you_ elected, that spent your money on the stuff you wanted it spent on. Complaining that the money isn't there now is really rather pointless. Cake: having, eating.

Back in the day loaning to a government was a pretty safe thing to do. But, oh lookie, not so clever now is it? It's not exactly a new problem either. Before the Euro was created, there were lots of European countries that could not fund the retirement plans already promised to their workers. Shame no one did anything about it back then.

So who will be paying _your_ state pension? Those kids that slacked off yesterday because you though having a public whinge about the problem you've created would help! Was that a good plan? Or perhaps it might be a better idea to turn out a few generations of diligent workers and tax payers.

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November 7th, 2011

09:28 am - On the Alchemy of Cleaning Toilets
I've a simple approach, I stick to tried and trusted methods. A simple scale of escalation depending on the nature of the problem that broadly goes: bog brush, bleach, limescale remover then bleach, vim and elbow grease, and for really persistent problems vim and silver sand and elbow grease.

My partner, however, believes in all out chemical warfare. She is on a never ending quest for the strongest, most effective cleaning agent, particularly for limescale. This time she may have found it from Odell's in Stoney. This is a very old hardware store that still has lots of drawers behind the counter for the smaller wares. If you've the "fork handles" sketch in your head, you won't be far wrong.

The product in question was "Spirits of Salt" (and this is where those with an interest in the history of Chemistry will probably guess what's coming). The previous concoction if the bowl was flushed away, and good long squirt of this archaically named product applied to the rim and pan. It started to fume. While I'm appreciative of vigorous bubbling from a cleaning product, fuming is right out. Remove cats, open window, leave, closing door behind you.

Spirits of Salt is Hydrochloric Acid. Specifically here in .uk it tends to be around 30%, and needs to be treated with some care. That old saw about always add acid to water kinda assumes it is a large volume of water; a thin film on a toilet bowl doesn't cut it.

So spirits of salt has been determined to be a step too far in toilet bowl cleaning; use for blocked drains only.

The new challenge is how to remove what I can only assume is iron chloride "rust" from the stainless steel cabinet in the same room. I'm going with toothpaste and elbow grease...

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October 14th, 2011

05:42 pm - Social forums, how have I neglected you
W.C .1732 by dingotush
W.C .1732, a photo by dingotush on Flickr.

I admit it. I haven't been anywhere near as active in the last few months (and the previous level of activity was slothful at best).

Subconsciously I find myself waiting for a collective decision on one forum to focus on, but instead there's a vacuum. Except of Twitter, which I have to say I find too damn irritating to make any use of.

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July 8th, 2011

11:32 am - Teachers don't learn
One thing that always boggles me during the summer months in London is the way you'll get a teacher (or two) shepherding a class of 30 kids trying to travel by Underground. They stand in a huddle on the platform, then act all surprised when a part full train pulls up, and there isn't space for them all to get on through one door. There probably isn't even space for them to fit in one carriage.

What do they do? While curious, I've never hung around to find out how they eventually get on a train. Do they wait for that most rare of items, an empty tube train (possibly in the wee hours)? Do they realise that they are going to have to change their strategy? Do any of them, when they finally get back, remember to tell other teachers that it was a really dumb idea?

You have to wonder if it is some initiation prank for the new hire taking their first school trip. Perhaps back in the staff room the seasoned veterans are smirking and sniggering as they recount tales of past trips though a fug of pipe tobacco. Though I guess, these days, the staff room doesn't feature clouds of smoke, and marked homework only has red ink and no flakes of shag.

I think watching (online) the sun rise over the last shuttle has left me somewhat melancholy.

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May 31st, 2011

07:20 pm - Not dead yet
laser-out-res by dingotush
laser-out-res, a photo by dingotush on Flickr.

Somewhere in between preparing for ConFuzzled and the con itself I managed to finish the placement and routing of a couple of PCBs. So, three weeks later and here they are, time to start stuffing and soldering.

As for ConFuzzled itself, I enjoyed it. I also frustratingly failed to take a single photo, fursuit, or go to any of the dances. I regret all three, but had fun anyway. Poor Kibble hasn't been out for a year now, I need to do something about that.

Right now, this circuit is the focus of my free time. I've already had one change of heart, and found on footprint cock-up, but nothing that can't be fixed.

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May 12th, 2011

11:49 am - Back!
dead-shuttle by dingotush
dead-shuttle, a photo by dingotush on Flickr.

Much of yesterday spent transplanting components from the dead shuttle to the new bare bones. After some fiddling everything I've tried seems to be working again.

Of course I've got bits left over. Anyone need a unused CPU heatsink and fan? There's also the old case with working PSU and damaged motherboard. Realistically I'm not going to get around to doing anything with it in the near future.

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March 1st, 2011

06:51 pm - Do burgers taste of grass?
I'm in the mood for a bit of a rant.

One of the fallacies that really winds me up is the "if you eat fatty foods you get fat" one. Seriously, how is this kind of metabolism supposed to work? You eat fat and your body extracts it and stores it on your belly (or hips)? I suppose when you eat protein it gets made into muscle, and any sugar you eat is spun into candy-floss and stored in your skull?

Burgers (supposedly bad because they have fat in 'em) are made of cow. Cows are made from a little cow and a lot of grass, recursively. Ultimately cows are made from a lot of grass and homeopathically small (bugger all unless you're really unlucky) amounts of proto-cow. Yet everyone knows that burgers don't taste of grass. Clearly, digestion and metabolism are more complicated than "store the appropriate bit of the food in the appropriate (or inappropriate) part of the body".

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February 22nd, 2011

09:28 am
This last weekend I filled a wheelie bin half full of thistles, did some CFz stuff, made creme brulee (the Delia way; the blowtorches I have are too aggressive for cooking), messed around with sugar threads, burnt finger, cast another cat bowl in soft silicon, got ill, and finished a jigsaw. Need to get myself a shop vac and an M10 bottom tap.

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February 16th, 2011

05:34 pm - Eclipse IDE
I detest it.

I've spent the best part of a day now downloading different versions of Eclipse, it's plugins, updating linux, the jdk, a 64-bit jdk ... trying to get a working combination. Seriously, why does the JDK that runs the IDE need to have anything at all to do with the target JDK? Why is a Java IDE so flaky it requires specific versions of Gnome et al to get it to work?

Finally, I got it running. Then I remembered why I'd avoided it like a communicable disease for so many years.

Eclipse has "projects". You can create a new project and do stuff, somewhere you can close a project, but of "File > Open project" there is no sign. People, what were you thinking?
Tags: ,

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February 14th, 2011

06:22 pm - And let that be a warning to you...

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