29 April 2006

Bang bang bang!

Metro rear wheel arch
Originally uploaded by Maltpress.
Hammer + Metro = bad. That's what I learnt today. Hardly rocket science, I know, but there you go... I was trying to clean up the rusty bits a little. Somewhat encouraced by the bit at the front which I though would be awful being OK, I went at the bad rear wheel arch and found this... it's more rust than metal, I have a feeling there's quite a bit of MIG wire in there, and there's certainly already some filler.

Metros do this, though. Rear wheel arches are the main weak spot.

Tomorrow dad will come round. We may hit it some more, swear a bit, and then try to fix it. Hopefully. If not I'm buying one of these.

28 April 2006

Weekend, weekend, la la la.

It's nearly the weekend! Hurrah. Only not. Only maybe hurrah.

Weekends are a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I'm not at work; on the other, I get bored. So I'm trying to plan ahead and make sure I have lots to do. More so this weekend as my brother's away and I have the house to myself all weekend. Just me and the moggy. We'd have a party if I had any friends who'd come and he knew how to write the invites.

Plans for this weekend then:

- hit my car with hammers. That's right - it's MOT time for the Metro, and I have a feeling the rust is going to fail it. Again. And I don't want to spend weeks welding again. I think it's just cosmetic, but it does mean I need to knock out the rusty bits and fill it. It also means it's off the road for a couple of weeks and I'm cycling everywhere.
- business set-up stuff; I'm seeing a financial advisor next week, and this weekend I'll be working on getting my company registered and all that malarky.
- fun things. Er... um... Tracy might come over and watch a DVD tonight. Better still, she might bring Michael with her and I'll seem even more popular, although I won't get such a good reputation with the neighbours as I would if it was women visiting me alone. Other than that I'm open to ideas. There's a classic car show on Monday me and dad may go to. Look out for Flickr updates following that.

I'm going to wrestle the cat and get his collar on, too. Someone at work who appeared to be jingling just reminded me of that.

27 April 2006

We had books at school

And it never did me any harm

Actually, we had books at university too, and I much preferred doing research like that. Why should schools be internet connected anyway? The internet can be a reasonable research tool but it's only a small part of it. There's so much rubbish out there that I don't think kids should be using the 'net for research until they've been taught how to critically evaluate the information they're given. It's a complete minefield - even governments use the wrong information from dodgy internet sources (academic essay as justification to invade Iraq, anyone?).

Taking internet connections away from schools isn't censorship. It's teaching kids how to actually think for themselves, and saving them from a lifetime of crippled, RSI hands and chronic dry eyes.

26 April 2006

Blood and guts

It being the end of the day, I was reading some of the blogs I peruse and decided to have a flick through the Best of Scary Duck (Grauniad blog award winner) - and came across this story.

It's reminded me of a similar story once told by my a-level biology teacher.

Now, Cambridge is a lovely flat place and as such the cycling capital of the world. Our biology teacher cycled in every day; as did many teachers. He'd also nip out on his bike on errands.

That's set-up fact number one.

Biology is sometimes a book-taught subject but is best when it's a practical one. No, no, not like that. Honestly - minds in the gutter. I'm talking dissection, as demonstrated by That'll Teach 'Em (starring Jeannie, my mate Pete's ex).

That's set-up fact number two.

Now, let's combine them.

Disection of bits of cow works best when they're reasonably fresh, so the smell doesn't affect the delicate constitutions of the pupils. A deal had been struck with a local butcher; in return for getting rid of the bits he didn't want, we got fresh bits and pieces to chop up. The only problem was picking them up. The biology teacher offered his services one lunch time and set off to get some nice fresh guts for the afternoon's lesson.

The offal safely stowed in a plastic bag, which in turn was safely stowed on the panier rack on the back of his bike, off he set. What he didn't notice, however, was the bag slipping from the rack behind him and dangling ever closer to the back wheel of his bike.

One thing - as they inevitably do in a good anecdote - led to another and the bag got caught in the spokes. Not only did the bag rip open, but off came the teacher into the road, his bike landing on top of him. Injuries were negligible - a couple of bruises - but the offal was ruined. It had gone everywhere..

And that's where passers by found him - lying in the road, seemingly mortally wounded, covered in blood and entrails. There were screams. Oh god, were there screams. I think the therapists of Cambridge still get work from it.

24 April 2006

My dad, my rabbit, and my first girlfriend

I just have to tell this story. It's one of my favourite anecdotes.

There comes a time in a relationship when you have to meet the parents of your partner. Now, most people dread this time, but not me; I get on well with parents. To be honest, I often get on better with parents than I do their daughters (not like that, you filthy buggers). But there was a time when I'd never gone through that, and my dad had never met a girlfriend of mine.

So the day came that Dad invited my first girlfriend round for tea, and she nervously accepted. Once she'd arrived, the nerves dissipated; both my brother and dad are easy to get on with, and they soon all found the common ground of winding me up over which to bond.

All the old stories came out over tea. One of the favourites - and one for another time - was my brother hitting me in the head with an axe. Oh how we laughed at my potential brain damage. This got us on the subject of scars, which inevitably led to the story about my rabbit.

Basically, I had a pet rabbit which one day went utterly mental and bit me, hard, on the end of my finger. It went all nasty and I have a scar to this day - some 20 years later. Now, the details are lost in the mists of time; my brother insists I must have been poking it, while I insist it had gone insane in some way. This theory was backed up by the fact that during the night of the incident, the rabbit managed to escape the run to go to live in the woods.

It was at this point in the story that my dad interjected. "You don't still believe that, do you?"

Well, of course we do. That's what you told us.

"Actually," explained dad - and please bear in mind at this point he's sitting right next to my first ever girlfriend, who's still a little nervous - "I was so upset the rabbit had hurt you that badly I went out that night, wrung its neck, and buried it in the garden".

There was a clatter of dropped cutlery at this point.

Now - brushing aside the possible cruelty aspect here (if it was a dog, they'd have put it down) - what was most shocking was that my dad was sitting next to my first love, basically saying to her "this is what happens if you hurt my son". It was both incredibly reassuring - my dad cares for me enough to kill to protect me - and yet incredibly scary. My dad cares for me enough to kill to protect me.

We had to quickly check the fate of some other pets - we've been assured that the dog really, really did go to live on a farm. All gerbils died of natural causes, and having received nothing more than a nasty suck from our goldfish, I wasn't worried about them.

Still, we did see Dad in a new light - as some kind of bizarre fen-based Mafia enforcer. Rather than "sleeping with the fishes", his enemies "went to live in the woods".

All my exes are still fine, although I can't be sure if future breakups will coincide with a new patio at Dad's house. You just don't mess with Don Maltpress's sons.

22 April 2006

Random Owl

Random Owl
Originally uploaded by Maltpress.
I went into Cambridge today for a wander around and to enjoy the sunshine while I worked on an idea I have (more details to come soon). While I was there a local falconry centre or something was out in force with owls - just standing around letting people take photos with them. This is the best photo I got - I'm pretty sure it's a long-eared owl.

I'm glad I wasn't wearing my hat made of mice. They'd have gone straight for me.

21 April 2006

This weekend...

I have no plans, but I know I need to make some otherwise I'll get bored again.

So, by Monday, expect one or more of the following:

  • CheeseHelmet NoseBleed's very own website
  • More CheeseHelmet NoseBleed merchandise with a new slogan
  • A post on here telling the story of my dad, my rabbit, and my first girlfriend.
    And that should do me for the weekend once sleeping is factored into the equation.

  • 20 April 2006

    What a dissapointing Guardian day

    Nothing really to bore you with today. So instead I'll promote my band, CheeseHelmet NoseBleed.

    Currently we have only one member - me - one song, no talent, but enthusiasm in bags. I'm hoping that will make up for our other shortcomings, but even I struggle to be enthusiastic enough to make up for not having a drummer.

    The one thing we do have, however, is merchandise, and an ever growing amount of it. At the moment there's a couple of t-shirts, but soon there will be mugs, more shirts, undergarments and... er... I don't know.

    It's my first attempt at using CafePress.com, the online store which lets you add your own logos to things. It's a great idea, beautifully executed (until I came along), Webby Award winner, and incredibly easy to use.

    Buy my pants here

    19 April 2006

    While I work on something good...

    Have this. Cats in helmets - hurrah.

    Unleash the hamster!

    This news story is brilliant (I can't get it to work on Firefox, though). Someone's invented a computer game which allows you to track the movements of a hamster as it chases food - and to control that food as if it's your game character. The article explains it a lot better than I can.

    I'm not sure why you actually need the computer - surely the same effect could be achieved with a somewhat cheaper (and technologically more stable) bit of string with a hamster snack on the end? Thinking about it, very few of the hamsters I've known (a story for another time, I'm sure) would be that arsed chasing food around.

    This reminds me of a story about some friends of my dad. They went out and spent an inordinate amount of money on a hamster, cage, food, toys and gnawy things one day and went home excited to have a new cute little pet to play with. When they got home the cat - as they do - sat and watched haughtily as they filled the cage with sawdust, attached the bottle and wheel, and generally fussed about. When all that was set up they wanted to give the little fella - who'd been crammed in a little box to bring him home - the chance to stretch his legs and take those first steps into a bigger world. So they put him in one of those plastic balls to roll around the living room carpet.

    Off he went. Bang - straight into the wall - the ball split open and they watched in horror as the cat went from nonchalantly watching to pouncing on the poor creature and eating it.

    And that's how the friends of my dad owned a hamster for less than an hour. One day I'll tell you about the time my dad killed my pet rabbit.

    Hamsters are fun, of course, to just watch stuffing things in their faces. An ex of mine used to find it hilarious - sadly far less so when I did it and got gravy everywhere. Still, the hamster had the advantage of being incredibly cute and furry - maybe that's where I was falling short.

    At least I didn't poo on the kitchen table though.

    18 April 2006

    I'm an opinion former and trend-setter, apparently

    Rather than a dull rambling geek, which is what I *thought* I was. It's quite reassuring. And means I can justify blogging at work while I wait for the kettle to boil and things - "honest, I'm on the bleeding edge and shaping trends with my opinionated spoutings on web content".

    I'm not sure all bloggers can be counted like this, of course. I've had about 700 visitors in the past six months; I'm not really shaping that many opinions. It's the minority of "name" bloggers who have interesting, witty content - blogs like Random acts of Reality and Scary Duck, as well as the interesting corporate blogs like Microsoft's developer blogs and Google's developer blogs who have the real opinions. I'm largely just talking to an empty room at the moment because I don't have much to say.

    Still, it does back up earlier claims of mine that corporate blogs are the way forward. A tech company without a blog is missing out; when a large proportion of your audience is a blog-savvy, always internet connected generation who care about how the product they buy has been designed for them, the best way to do that is to track the development of that product and (at least outwardly appear to) gather feedback.

    Anyway, I'm back at work and so now I have no excuse to be bored. I will still achieve it however.

    16 April 2006

    I'm still bored.

    This has got to be a bad thing, right? That I can't seem to survive a weekend off without descending into mind-numbing boredom? I'd like to think that's because I have a massive mental capacity which, in the absence of a multitude of incredibly stimulating problems, rapidly gets a bit mardy and punishes me. But it's not; it's mostly laziness. I could tidy my room, do yet more ironing, write an article, build a website, write a business plan, or any number of things. But I figure this is my time off and I should do something fun. What that is escapes me at the moment.

    I'm still drooling over Apple products at the moment. Perhaps if my five or more readers (OK, so that's a bit optimistic) could write to them and tell them how JuicyFly's reccomendation has made them want to buy one too, then they'll send me one. Or at least a £5 voucher for one. If I had a voucher I had to use up, that would be justification enough to buy one.

    Please, please, give me something to do.... I don't want to iron any more. It's lost the joy it once had.

    15 April 2006

    Bank holidays = bad thing

    I'm bored. Utterly, utterly bored. And that's dangerous. Because this keeps calling to me. No way I need one, or can afford one, but mmmm. Shiny. Pros: I could test websites on a Mac and surf the internet watching TV. And it's pretty. Cons: I don't need one, can't afford one, and I have better things to do than watch Beauty and the Geek while blogging. Which, of course, I am in no way doing right at this moment. No way. God forbid.

    Yesterday I played with the car (the Metro) to fix a couple of little electrical problems. I'm not sure *how* I fixed it, because I have no idea what was actually wrong - although at one point there was a smell of burning. Which is probably not a good thing. Anyway, all seems to be working fine now, no funny smells (except me, of course). Then I went to the pub, had fun, went to the Kam Bar, was very dissapointed by the choice of music, then went to bed.

    And that's all I can think to do all weekend except ironing and cleaning. Bugger.

    13 April 2006

    Some damn clever stuff

    30 boxes online calendar and Google's calendar (which was launched very recently) are a couple of web apps I'd not seen before but which are damn clever. I'll have a proper play with them when I'm not at work and having my lunch break, which I am now. Honest.

    11 April 2006

    We're all red-top readers online

    Coming soon, an article I've written all about how great I think The Sun newspaper is, and how web content editors could learn a lot from them.

    Should be available as a PDF download in a few days, when my server's up and running again. I'll post a link on here so if you want to know when it's live, subscribe to the RSS feed.

    Managing IT with no IT experience

    You'd never think it would happen but you see it all the time. With websites too - decision makers wanting bells and whistles without looking at the implications for keeping the site ticking over - or even what the end user gets out of the experience.

    Still, it happens in every industry. A while ago I wrote (ooo, hark at me) an article for PM Live magazine with a colleague on the benefits of getting marketing people to understand the research process better - and of getting researchers looking at the marketing process. In complex organisations the knock-on effects of seemingly innocuous decisions are easily overlooked.

    As an example, a site I'm building now will have banners at the tops of all the pages, which need to be randomised. Now, no pages can go live without the banners in place, and the banners are going to have to be designed and built. Without decisions being made on these banners - bearing in mind briefing creatives and the procurement process - the whole site is held up. For one small element of the page. Now, factor in the number of elements on a page, and the size of a site (around 300 pages) and the relationships between all the elements start to get a little confusing. I've been having fun with Gantt charts, scissors and selotape.

    That's what keeps it so interesting though.

    You may also notice my banner's not there at the moment. My very kind web host, who's been a great technical resource and generous to a fault with his hosting charges, is doing something with the server. Normal service will resume soon. In the mean time, I'm still able to recieve emails sent to my normal address but you'll get a reply from a hotmail one. Sorry about that.

    07 April 2006

    The Mighty 'Bleed

    And so it begins... I've decided that sitting on an idea for seven years plus will just lead to me never doing it, and regretting that. So I'm trying to fulfil my aim of having at least one more gig with a band. That's right - I'm looking to start my band, Cheesehelmet Nosebleed, and get a gig.

    I'm advertising for like-minded musicians on Cambridgebands.com (advert here) and will hopefully have updates soon.

    I just need to save up for an amp now. And singing lessons. And guitar lessons.

    06 April 2006

    Scaryduck: Not Scary. Not a Duck.

    Scaryduck: Not Scary. Not a Duck.

    Ha ha ha - I will add this game to the "Benny Hill" game I play.

    The "Benny Hill" game involves allowing the Benny Hill music to run free through your head at times of stress - meetings, bad TV, driving, etc... it works very well during adverts for Dance Compilations, too, what with the ladies in skimpies doing with the jiggles.

    And finally for today, why women are changing their minds about men - apparently now women are more financially solvent they increasingly prefer good looking men to rich ones. Do you think there's going to be a tipping point in the future somewhere when financially comfortable but by no means rich average looking men will get a look in?

    No, I didn't think so either.

    Thursday again

    It's funny how they roll around almost weekly now, isn't it?

    Not updated the blog for a while - and I'm not sure why not. It's not like I've been doing anything particularly useful with my time lately; reading a lot, going out a bit, sleeping, drinking cider (nice cider - Magners - not White Lightening on a park bench).

    Oh, I serviced the Midget (saying that always makes me laugh) the other day, which was fun, and I had a drive in the sun with the top down the other day.

    So what's new? Well, I have a business idea on the go. It's Web 2.0 Blue Sky Thinking and will push the envelope and all that other rubbish. Suffice to say I have the ideas but don't really know how to implement them; it's a variation on something that already exists; I've had the idea knocking around for a while; and this time next year I'll be a millionairre.

    Grauniad today has a couple of interesting things - a story on semantic web, controlling games in new ways (which ties in with the very, very stupid and utterly impractical idea I had on holiday to make console games for the blind using force-feedback controllers, sound, and vibration) and - actually even more similar to that idea - something about audio description on TV.

    So, plans for the weekend - drinking on Friday, trying to get this business idea into shape on Saturday, and I might try to write an article I've been meaning to do for ages. I need to spend some more time on JuicyFly, I think. Time to get things moving again.