Friday 11 December 2009

A new 419 Scam arrived this morning and I just couldnt resist

Greetings people! It has been a while since i last posted , busy busy work work, you know the score. However I just couldnt help myself this morning when this popped up in my inbox
British Airways Authority(BAA)
Baggage Claims Unit (S506)
London Heathrow Airport
PO Box 5619
Sudbury Suffolk CO10 2PG

This is British Airport Authority (BAA), the world's leading airport
company. I wish to inform you that a box containing US$5.5 Million has been
received through our Heathrow Airport in your name as appeared on the tag
attached to the box. I have personally examined and scanned the box and
discovered it to contain (US$5.5Million). I decided to contact you before
sending the box to the UK's Customs for final scanning and official
In view of this, I am contacting you to ascertain the correctness of the
name that appeared on the tag and also inform you that the box has since
been deposited with the UK Treasury Insurance Authority at the airport for
safe keeping pending the outcome of this contact.

As soon as I hear from you, you will be directed to contact the
clearing/releasing officer.

I want you to contact me urgently on my private email at
before sending the box to the customs.

Best regards,
Mr. J.Uddin
British Airways Authority(BAA)
London United Kingdom

Well this was a new one on me, so i felt beholding to respond in my usual efficent manner, so this was sent from a spoofed outlook account
Mr Uddin

I am contacting you because we in the Police Service of Northern Ireland VNB task force have been monitoring Mr McDonagh's activities and we believe you may be in danger!

We have been passed information from the police in Nigeria that MrMcDonagh may have nailed the testicles of a Dr Winston Woodogo (Barrister At Law) to his office desk in Sanya Street, Lagos and is now returning to Ireland by a circular route.

Mr Woodogo had offered MrMcDonagh a lucrative business deal but had not processed it fast enough and MrMcDonagh is a native of Carndonagh Co.Donegal an area not known for the placid and patience nature of it's inhabitants.

As I hinted at before we in the PSNI VNB Unit have been monitoring Mr McDonagh's activities for some time and we consider him a dangerous and very volatile individual who in the last 3 years has been responsible for inflicting several gential related injuries in sub saharan Africa which included the hanging a doctor by his foreskin from the branches of a sacred tree in Aruja.

We believe that the boxed $5.5 million may be the money MrMcDonagh recovered from the Mr Woodogo's scheme.Our colleagues in the Anti Terrorist Squad believe this money may be related to one of the Irish terrorist groups. Mr McDonagh is the quartermaster of the Royal Republican Sinn Fein Orange Perceptory Liberation Army splinter group unoffically known as the "The Culshie Army". This group was responsible for the great black pudding heist in August 2001 where the entire black pudding output of County Londonderry (some 1.75 million black puddings) where stolen and sold on the black pudding black market.

Consequently we would like you to forward us any correspondence that Mr McDonagh or any of his colleagues send you and urge you to never ever agree to meet McMcDonagh particularly if he invites you to a meeting in the Harbour Bar Portrush the scene of many of his most henious crimes!

Yours Faithfully
Inspector N.O'Toogerty
Commander VNB Squad
Police Service of Northern Ireland

I followed this up with the following email from my own account

You have my box?
What are you doing with my fecking box?
I don't like people fiddling with my box!
I get very cross when people fiddle with my box!
Give me my box NOW or suffer the consequences you scum sucking f*cker

I await developements

Oh and if anyone wants to join in .... his email address is

PS the VNB Squad = "Very Naughty Boy Squad" just in case you were wondering

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Wee tip about automated agents that produce M$ word or Powerpoint documents

If you have a scheduled Domino agent (either local or server) that produces a Wurd or PowerPoint(less) and you suddenly start to see "automation errors" appear... start Wurd or PowerPoint(less) and turn off spelling and grammer checking.

Took me ages to figure out what was going on ... Wurd and PowerPoint(less) will send a message if you are running interactively saying something along the lines of  "You are a really crap speller and I have stopped because there are so many mistakes and I really think it is pointless going on" ..and if you run your agent asd a scheduled agent these alert boxes never appear :-(

This started happening when the Wurd/PowerPointless was upgraded to the 2007 version, so I assume that in this version the spelling and grammer checker gets all Prim and Proper about content unless you go into the options and turn the damn thing off.

The spelling mistakes were on corporate part numbers!

Sunday 8 November 2009

Bit of a problem with Firefox, Safari and FLEX uploads to a Domino Server

After much head scratching over an issue I had with uploads FLEX and Firefox, namely authenticated uploads work in IE but do not in Firefox i have discovered the cause. As described by Jake Howlett over on his excellent CodeStore site FLEX uses a class called the FileReference to get and then upload the file or files the user selects.

The problem comes in that for some reason Firefox does not sent the DomAuthSessId cookie over in the header.. for example here is a header receieved from FLEX from an authenticated session using the FLEX HTTPRequest object.

*** New Request -- Parse and Check Request: Session 7, Thread 1ba4, Clock 1602816
GET /econtent/AC_OETags.js HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.0; en-GB; rv: Gecko/2009101601 Firefox/3.0.15 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)
Accept: */*
Accept-Language: en-gb,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
Keep-Alive: 300
Connection: keep-alive
Cookie: DomAuthSessId=47F0EA4947495C8C4C6E9FAF6665CD73
If-Modified-Since: Thu, 05 Nov 2009 00:07:20 GMT

and here is the next header received by the server from FLEX again running on Firefox in the same session using the FileReference.upload() method

*** New Request -- Parse and Check Request: Session 8, Thread 7c4, Clock 1617184
POST /econtent.nsf/Gallery?createDocument HTTP/1.1
Accept: text/*
Content-Type: multipart/form-data; boundary=----------GI3ae0Ij5gL6ei4KM7GI3ae0Ef1ei4
User-Agent: Shockwave Flash
Content-Length: 8644
Connection: Keep-Alive
Cache-Control: no-cache
As you can see no DomAuthSessId.. and what happens well the Domino Server does what it is meant to do, it sends back the Logon screen to the Flex program. In case you are wondering this data was obtained from my server using the following Server Console commands prior to test running the FLEX
tell http debug thread on | off (default level)
tell http debug postdata on | off (for client POST data)
tell http debug responsedata on | off (for server response data)
Now this is a major FUBAR and it is odd to be complaining about FF and not IE but there you go. It seems FF starts an entirely new browser instance to do the FileReference.upload() hence the no DomAuthSessId being passed.

However all is not lost you think, the FileReference takes a URLRequest object and it has the ability to be coded to load the Header with values should you need them. Well yes it does and you can set any number of values in the URLRequest object BUT and it is a bigh BUT Flex ignores them, so there is no way out that way!.

Nothing I have tried to date allows me to use the pre-authentication of the browser instance my flex is running in to send a file to the server via the FileReference object. FECK! and yet it works perfectly in IE8 (a fact which is particularly galling) it is FireFox (and from my testing Safari) that are the problems on this occasion and it holds true for Flex 3 and Flex 4 and from my browsing of the Adobe site not likely to be acknowledged as a problem let alone fixed any time soon.

So far the only work around I can come up with is to spawn out to a standard browser child window upload the file there using a Domino File Upload control and then use an external JS function to talk to the parent flex program when the file sucessfully uploads.. which is a bloody pain in the arse!

The whole situation is not helped by the Domino server not liking a standard POST method of getting data from the client to the server..

Anyway there you go .. back to the head scratching

It seems the modern bible is a Nasty Namby Pamby Liberal construct

LOL this is priceless... and was passed to me by someone who thinks it is a "good" idea and loudly applauds it. I was [thankfully] speechless when he told me because I would have been very very rude had I actually read it at the time he told me about it.

The link I got is here ... however in synopsis
.. As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[2]
  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other feminist distortions; preserve many references to the unborn child (the NIV deletes these)
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms to capture better the original intent;[4] Defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words that have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction[5] by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[6] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL... Free Market Parables..makes me think ...todays reading is from the Book of Friedman Chaper 2.

Yea Verify .. and the Lord was asked by a grower of Peas ..."Rabbi the Romans doth want to extract a levy on the benefit I get when I put Donkey Poo on my Peas where for should I do?" and the lord answered thus 
"My son a free market describes a market without econmic intervention and regulation by governement except to regulate again force or fraud. The Romans being foreginers and slow on the uptake could not find their arses with both hands, 10 slaves and a scroll, but for now sucketh it up and give them their due, for come the reagan administration they will be first against the wall"

Now this is an interesting a site - Multicolour Search Site

Now this is an interesting site, it takes several colours you choose and then presents you Flickr images that contain those colours. Now when trying to get a "scheme" for a web site that combines colours or uses what you believe to be challenging colour combinations this is rather useful as you can see if they do work and if the "real" world uses them too.

Mlticolr Search Lab

Carl Sagan Day

Ah well a little late on the ball for the blog, but it is the week end and I was doing other things. Yesterday Nov 7th was the first Carl Sagan Day celebrating what would have been the eponymous scientist's 75th birthday.

Carl Sagan was one of my hero's as a teenager interested in all things scientific. One of the few "big" books that has followed me from house to house and has survived several "clear outs" is "Cosmos" and as my own small part in the celebrations of the day I re-read several of my favourite chapters.

Belated happy birthday Professor Sagan! You are missed!

Saturday 7 November 2009

Pope Benedict the Anglicans the Guardian and married Priests

I was in a conversation the other evening about Pope BendyDick's recent repeated offer to the Anglican communions that should get get all annoyed, cross and fuming over the fact that someone who naturally has a uterus and no willy be made a bishop can come and be Catholics. Now the offer is open not only to Anglicans one at a time but aslo for full congregations including the priests, now this poses somewhat of a problem for those priests that are Anglican and are married.

Now the Guardian is a paper I seldom readm but it usually is reasonably up to speed on the idea of research however one of the people I was in conversation with made the comment when I brought up the problems of being married and a priest retorted that "Well I read it in the Guardian they could be married", She would not be swayed in her belief, something that is in the Guardian is to be believed more that the internal rules that govern the Catholic Church .. aka "Canon Law".

For all you Guardian readers out there who may have read that and are now defending the idea that the Catholic Church has done a U-Turn on this policy .. here are some facts the Guardian missed.

Up until 1139 all the clery could be married (Infact 39 popes where offically married). The Second Lateran council changed the rules. All existing priest marriages were declared invalid and future priests were required to maintain celibacy.

Celibacy as defined by the 2nd Lateran council is quite rigidly defined (in Latin) Priest are not allowed to be married or have sex with females, males, self, animals, etc... it makes an interesting and funny if it were not the document that sentenced the priesthood to centuries of misery really for no good reason other than they didnt like sex getting in the way.

The Church resists to this day married priests. For a priest to legally get married under canon law he must be granted a special dispensation to release him from the rule of celibacy, (in fact if a priest wants to have an offical period of "self love" he needs to have this permisson as well)

However the process to grant the dispensation and the actual wording of the dispensation are problematic. When applying for the dispensation a priest must put together a lot of paperwork. Part of the paperwork almost requires him to say that he never should have been ordained a priest in the first place.

The document that grants dispensation from celibacy is called "a rescript", and it includes wording that says the priest loses rights to
1. the clerical state
2. loses his office of priest
3. is no longer bound by the duties of the clerical state.

The priest is then allowed to marry under Church rules.

However, the rescript wording also includes a prohibition of exercising any sacred ministry. Thus the priest may not participate in a parish as a lector/reader, eucharistic minister, or any functions of a deacon or priest.

So, when Anglian priests decide to jump ship and are all ready married will all of them have to apply for and get the dispensation? Yes if they want to stay offically married then yes they do.

The canon law that applies is number 1394 which is
"Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 194, ß1, n. 3, a cleric who attempts marriage, even if only civilly, incurs a latae sententiae suspension. If, after warning, he has not reformed and continues to give scandal, he can be progressively punished by deprivations, or even by dismissal from the clerical state"

However there is a "get out" rule in Canon law 1335

"Provided it is not reserved to the Apostolic See (the Vatican), a penalty which is established by law and has been imposed or declared, can be remitted by the following:

Provided it is not reserved to the Apostolic See, a latae sententiae penalty established by law but not yet declared, can be remitted by the Ordinary in respect of his subjects and of those actually in his territory or of those who committed the offence in his territory. Moreover, any Bishop can do this, but only in the course of sacramental confession."

So basically as long as no-body says anything and the priest do not apply for permission to be married and the See does not declare or impose a "latae senentiae" then everything is fine, the priest remains as he was before, cept he is no longer lonely in bed.

Aint it grand to see the high-heejin-god-bothers being clever?

So in answer to the the lady who queried me on why i believed Anglican priests cannot remain married, No they can't if they want to follow the rules of the organisation they belong to, they will become "latae senentiae" if they do.
But if they want to just keep on going and ignore that particular rule then they can, but you do have to then question any stand they make on Abortion, Divorce etc etc etc, which are also against canon law.

Another case of "Do as I Say not as I do" from the men in the funny frocks!

Friday 6 November 2009

My Cousin Andy on stage, on CD an in Print

Just back from the "big smoke" (or Belfast if you prefer) where my cousin Andy White orginally from Belfast has just launched his book to a crowd of native Norn Ironer's including myself.

I am just home with the new CD and Book and both are worth a listen and a read.. You can find details and a few tracks over on his web site.

You can find the CD "Songwriter" on amazon but there  is only 1 left!!! It is not on iToons yet , but keep and eye open if you like your music thoughtful, melodic and with good lyrics Cousin Andy is just the ticket!

The Book is called "21st century Troubadour" (and is a damn good read!!!) and isnt available on line as far as i can see but you can get it off his website (i think)

Here is his last Video If you want it sung with Allison Russell from the Canadian Band Po'Girl

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Thinking of a new career

It comes to us all from time to time, general malaise, dicomfortature with the day to day slog and a feeling of dissatisfaction with the way your life is progressing. Well today was one of those days for me. Rather than sit around moping and being grumpy which is my usual recourse at times like these I decided to mark today with a potential change in direction career wise. Get a little more £'s in the pension pot and all that. So having had a look in the "Sits Vac" I think I may have found the next career jump for yours truly .. President of Europe.

Blair seems to have ruined his chances and there is no dead certainty for the post that comes up next year.
I think I would be perfect for the job so I went off and found out who is the Irish representative on the European council, got her email address and sent her this message.(Click for a better view)

I hope I can count on your support when it comes to lobbing the powers that be.

I am off now to register and

Later All!

Friday 30 October 2009

eContent - The start of a new "home" project

have been ruminating about a home project (rather than work) that will exercise my Domino and Flex muscles [ Flex my Flex if you will ;) ] and I am sort of settled on a content managment system called eContent. I have got all the ideas in my head at the minute and they are currently being Mind-Mapped into some form of sensible order.

I have got the front page and logon up and running and I may be asking for volunteers to road test it in the next couple of weeks. It will [when and if it is finished ] be released open-source, so if anyone is interested in idiot testing it when I get something to test, please drop me an email.

This is the front screen [click for a bigger image] and I shall be blogging the life cycle of the project as I go for the moment there isn't a lot to say other than .. Happy Birthday "eContent"

Saturday 24 October 2009

Rage, rage against the dying of the light! Teenage Zombies, Shopping and the cost of a cup of Coffee

It has been one of those days....
As I sit here in McDonagh Central, the words of Dylan Thomas come rocketing into my mind
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Yes I have been shopping in Londonderry / Derry (affectionatly known as "Stroke City" cos the Prods afix the suffix London and the Catholics do not , hence "Stroke City"). But that is not ther reason for this rant....

After a quick wander around PC world to look at the tech and all things geeky, sundry females dictated that it was time to hit Foyleside Shopping Centre, what our American cousins call "a mall". Oh Joy Unbounded!

To me shopping centres of any type are as Douglas Adams would have it "..the long dark tea time of the soul" and on this late October day never was it more true. Gales and heavy rain had moved in from the Atlantic and the north coast of Ireland was being drenched and blown hither and thither in equal measure.

So there I was abandoned in one of the temples of Mamon with not a great deal to do for a couple of hours. Don't get me wrong there is a place in the world for clothes shops otherwise we would all be naked and in the case of Northern Europeans blue with the cold. However the nature of clothes shops is defined by a select group of deamons that have slipped through a dimensional gateway and rather than douse everyone in nasty smelling ectoplasm have instead taken it upon themselves to damn humanity to a multitude of evils wrapped up in the gaudy glitter of "department stores".

It being close to Halloween, the store fronts are packed with the tat all parents of the under 10's are nagged incessantly for. Witches harts, skeletons of varying sizes, colour and luminosoty (all of which are anatomically total crap!) gouls, ghosties and other miscellanea that go bump in the night. (perhaps only in the minds of people that have had too much cheese before bed - nocturnal Stilton nibblers have a lot to answer for!)

I sat at the central crossroads of the four "legs" of the mall, three floors above and two below and let a seething horde of humantiy bumble past. It struck me there really wasn't that much difference between the shuffling gait of these Halloween consumers and that of the Zombies in the "[insert time of day here]... Of the Dead" movies.. All they needed was a little less colour and some dribble and it would have been perfect.
Way and above any other group represented in this mass of humanity was the packs of PPTGs [Post Pubescent Teenage Girls]. Now I am the father of a 20 something male, a fact that I give thanks for every waking day for I as a father would not let any daughter of mine out on the street looking anything like these lassies.

There was a palable tension as each group of PPTGs passed by. Where as teenage boys seldom are not awake enough at 3pm to pose any threat (other than the sudden discovery of last night's socks in the linen basket) these lassies where on the hunt, tracking down their prey by some form of collective telepathy... or could it be the high pitched giggling and overly enthusiastic ejectualations of camardarie - Hmmm there could be rich pickings for a piece of scientific study there.

I retired to the relative peace and quiet of the Gentleman's department of Debenhams which has one small floor in the basement which is around the same size as the portion of the next floor up set aside to sell handbag deodourisation utensils.

There amongst the suits, 3 colours in a variety of sizes from "Skinny Git" to "Fat Bastard" I found a modicum of sanity and peace. This was not a place for the predatory packs of PPTGs or there older but much more deadly YMWPs  [Young Mother With Pram] or the vicious solitary MAWLFAPFs [Middle Aged Woman Looking For A Party Frock] I spent a pleasant hour picking through a sizeable array of goods branded by "Stig" from Top Gear. (you can get Stig on a Rope if you feel the need to wash those intimate places with a dark visored helmeted Racing driver!) and some suits by "Rocca, John Rocca" why on earth does he need to have name mentioned twice .. it is not like it is a difficult name.. and I heard it the first time.. so WTF is there twice for?

Venturing back into the meleé i girded my loins and set off in search of a cup of coffee. Now I have said this before and I will say it again.. I WANT A FECKING CUP OF COFFEE. I do not want a trough, a bath or a small resevoir of the fecking stuff flavoured with caramel, cinnamon and essence of Papal Sweat!
I want a simple uncomplicated cup of coffee that taste of coffee, with perhaps a splash of milk, milk that came from an ordinary cow, not a skinny or lord perserve me a Soya cow! I want to be able to go up to the spotty oik behind the counter and say "A cup of coffee please" and not have to endure the endless fecking questions about the additional extras. Was not my instruction simple enough and put in such a way that there should be no misunderstanding? So to all you "baristas" out there, you are NOT some form of intellectual giant whose right it is to question the nature of the universe and coffee's place in it, you are there to give me a cup of smegging coffee when I ask for one and take whatever mortage level price your establishment is currently selling it for.How in gods green earth does some hot water, coffee beans and a serving attitude taught by Attilla the Starbucks Paradgim Moderator come to £3 fecking 50?

Ah well tis over for another wee while, I have been there done that and now I am at home, with the computer, a coffee and a good book, so for now I have done my "Rage Rage..." bit and the night having come lies ahead
Toodle pip for the now gentle reader :-)

Friday 23 October 2009

FLEX - Logging onto a Domino server from inside a FLEX app

Now don't queue up to shout at me.. this is a bit of a kludge and it works, however it does rely on some facilities of domino that may or may not be continued to be supported.

When you have Session Authentication enabled on your server and you log onto the server a cookie is dropped called DomAuthSessId and this cookie is passed back and forth to the server with every HTML page that is served.

Luckly in FLEX when you  log on to the server and use the HTTPService or WEBService objects this cookie is passed back to the server on each POST or GET that you call.. But how do you get this cookie there in the first place? Well the easiest way is to lock down your NSF so that Anonymous has no access and when accessed from the web the default server logon screen is displayed. Now far be it from me to say that it looks like shite but lets be fair is is rather 1990's in appearance. It would be much nicer if you could log on from the nice shiney RIA that Flex provides.

This is how I did it.

I need a HTTPService object to do the logon
<mx:HTTPService id        ="myLogon"
                    url      =""
                    method   ="POST"                
                    fault    ="logonFail()"    
                    result   ="logonResult(event)">    
                    <mx:request xmlns="">
OK what's happening above
The HTTP Server i have defined will goto the URL specified in the URL setting which as you can see is the familiar names.nsf?logon URL and it will be a POST transaction rather than a GET
If the call successfully returns well formated XML actionscript function logonresult() will fire. If the connection fails OR poorly formatted XML is returned (as is the case if the call returns an HTML error page) the actionscript function logonFail() is called.
At the bottom i have defined 3 Paramaters that will be passed username, password and redirectto. Username is bound to a text input field called username in the flex application likewise password is bound to a similar field. Redirectto on the other hand points at logonok?openagent and this agent will be called if and only if the logon is processed by the server and the user is authenticated.

The logonFail() function looks like this

private function logonFail():void
      "Sorry - Your Logon Attempt failed")
The logonResult() function looks like this
private function logonResult(event:ResultEvent):void
       "Hello there You are In!");        
And the LS agent LogOnOk looks like this
Sub Initialize
    Print |Content-Type:text/xml|        
    Print |<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>|    
    Print | <loggedon>yes</loggedon> |    
End Sub

As you can see the LS simply returns some well formed if relatively meaningless XML should the signon fail for any reason some nasty HTML will be returned which will cause Flex to fire the logonFail() function.

I then place the USERNAME and PASSWORD field somewhere in the FLEX app with a LOGON button which calls actionscript myLogon.send() (myLogon being the ID of the HTTPService) and .send() initiates the call to the server.

Now although FLEX does not refresh the page the SWF is embedded in every time the server is contacted it does accept the cookies that are sent back from the server and placed them as normal on the page. So when you do something like the above in your own Flex app, and logon is sucessful when you go and look you will see the DomAuthSessId cookie appear, this then gets passed on each successive HTTPService call to your server (for as long as the cookie survives)

FLEX - What to do when your returned data has only one record

In Flex the easiest way to get data back from the server (any server) is to provide it with nicely formatted XML which Flex can cope with very easily and pop it into an ArrayCollection object. However what happens when your data set has only one record?

Yes Flex falls over because it cannot force the returned single item data type into an ArrayCollection object for example you may have this actionscript assuming you have some XML coming down that is called myData with rows of myArticles that have fields called myType and myKey in it
private var myData:ArrayCollectionmy;
Data = event.result.myData.myArticle;
If only one or no records are returned then flex throws an error and you have to code your way around it like this
private var myData:ArrayCollectionmy;
     myData = event.result.myData.myArticle;
} catch(error:Error) {
     var rcd:Object= new Object();
     rcd.myType = event.result.myData.myArticle.myType;
     rcd.myKey = event.result.myData.myArticle.myKey;
     myData = new ArrayCollection()

What is this code doing?
Well the bit in the TRY{} tries to stuff the returned data into the Defined but uninstansiated ArrayCollection object called myData, if it succeeds (ie there was more than one record) everything is fine and the code will continue. If however there is only one record the CATCH{} code is run. I am not particularly interested in the error that is produced but it must be defined in the catch(error:Error) structure.

First I have to instansiate the ArrayCollection object with a new statement otherwise the object is null and you will get another error.

Then I create a new vanilla flex object called rcd

This object is populated with properties with names that match exactly the properties of the XML node

Once all the properties are set I add it into the ArrayCollection object and everything is fine

*** Note *** this code does not pick up on ZERO records.. this is because I NEVER return an empty data set. If the data set is empty i will construct a row that indicated to the user that no records where available. I suggest you do the same.

Thursday 22 October 2009

FLEX - Getting the URL when you are in a flex App

There are times when you want to get the URL either in it's entirity or just bits of it inside Flex. For example when you want to send a link to a document so that flex knows to go to that particular document and open it when the Flex app is initiated.

This is relatively simiple all you need to do is instansiate and access the BrowserManager object, from this object you can get all sorts of useful information about the URL that holds the FLEX object.

You will need to import the following classes.
import mx.utils.URLUtil;
import mx.managers.IBrowserManager;
import mx.managers.BrowserManager;
and the declare vars for the bits of the URL you want to get at
private var serverName:String;
private var portName:int;
private var protocolName:String;
Then in your application.CreationComplete event function lets call it initApp() you need this
private function initApp():void
browserManager = BrowserManager.getInstance();
browserManager.init("", "Browser Window Title");
var url:String = browserManager.url;
serverName = mx.utils.URLUtil.getServerName(url);
portName = mx.utils.URLUtil.getPort(url);
protocolName = mx.utils.URLUtil.getProtocol(url);

You then have your current server url all nicely in vars and you do not need to hard code your URLs in the rest of the code. (you will need to make the vars [Bindable] if you want to use them in other objects!)

There are loads of other methods associated with the BrowserManager Class which you can find here.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

But soft what light through yonder window breaks? (UKLUG 2009)

Ah gentle reader UKLUG tis over for another year, a fabulous production in 2 acts.
This year's production continued the march of excellence that is the Elsmore double act Warren and Kitty.

Foolishly they invited me to help in the organisation and I was able to watch at first hand as they pushed , cajoled and herded geeks (both speakers and attendees)and sponsors down the road to The SAS Radisson Hotel in Edinburgh assisted by the rest of the organising crew, now officially known as "Black Shirts" Paul Mooney, Eileen Fitzgerald, Julian Woodward, Matt White, Bill Buchan, Chris Coates, Gab and Tim Davis, Mike Smith, the "Token American" Rob Novak and lastly the token eejit ME :-)! Many many others selflessly lent a hand on the day and to them a large HUZZAH, multitudinous hugs and a great big thank you! They all played a part and I sort of hung around the edges and tried to be helpful.

Mind you it has to be said that all the brilliant organising in the world would have pointless if the cash had not been there to make it all possible, this came from the sponsors and 3 stout, loud happy grateful cheers wing their way to the bold companies that dug deep in to shrinking credit crunch budgets!

Also had not the speakers volunteered to stand up in front of a room of their peers and speak for an hour on something they feel so passionate about that they want to share it with others the conference would have been terribly boring, so lets toss our caps in the air and jump around like mad things shouting YO! for the speakers.

Brilliant organisation, brilliant sponsors, brilliant speakers do not the perfect conference make ... Imagine if the attendees had not turned up, we would all have been standing like eejits in an empty hotel with nothing to tweet about other than how nice the chips were with garlic mayo (they were!!). So WELL DONE all you attendees everyone involved above salute you with a virtual standing ovation!

Lastly the Venue, the Radisson on the Royal Mile in the Heart of Edinburgh. What can I say? They were the resin on the UKLUG bow and made the conference sing. Every member of staff responded with prompt efficiency and to any and all requests and most importantly did so with a smile. A+, Gold star, top of the class!

What I am saying in my usual overly wordy, gobshite way is UKLUG always has been and will continue to be more than the sum of it's parts. It is this synergy that throbs in this strange community of ours. It is a synergy that I have yet to find in any other organisation I have come across or participated in.

I am proud to have been a cog in the perfectly tuned performance conference that was UKLUG 2009, (I hope they invite me back to help next year). I am proud to be a member of the greater Notes community .. You guys rock! :-)

[PS Particularly the ones that came to Bill Buchan's and my session. You are very loud and very good at recognising squirrels (particularly Ben Poole). I hope we made sense occasionally between fighting with the projector. It seemed so much better when we sort of practised it]

[PPS. "The light through the window.." was from Rob Novak's suite as Paul Mooney pretended to be Kate Winslet on Titanic's Bow, 4 stories above the Royal Mile ... I have to add he was being stoutly held by Coatsie]

[PPSS. If you see Bill Malchisky play him some George Clinton Funk!)

[PPPSS. Don't let Julian Robichaux near Urinal Cakes!]

Saturday 3 October 2009

Wednesday 30 September 2009

OH BUM! 9 days till UKLUG pre session panic and other things


I am sat here in Casa McDonagh and I really should be doing 1 of 100 things other than writing a blog post. I have my presentation to finish, the example code to finish some corrections to a couple of web sites I help maintain. I am a world class procrastinator, were it not constantly postponed I could represent Ireland at the "do it tomorrow" Olympics.

One of the things that is delaying me are my most recent purchases... firstly my new shiney (apart from the bikkie crumbs and finger prints) copy of Richard Dawkins "The Greatest Show on Earth" which I have nearly finished. I suppose it is a signpost to the extent of my geekishness when the rest of the world seems to waiting for the most recent noxious fart from the literary arse hole that is Mr Dan Brown, here is me waiting with itchy fingers for a book on Evolution. It has to be said that I am not great fan of Mr Dawkins' non science writing, he rants a good rant but ranting is best confined to a page or two not complete books and has to contain at least a couple of truly offensive swear words. On the other hand when he turns his hand back to science he excells and "The Greatest show on Earth" delivers in aces.

The other sap on my attention span is the new album (do we still have albums?) from the dreadlocked Newton Faulkner "rebuilt by humans" the follow up to "handmade by robots" . I have no idea why I like this chap but I do. He writes a good song and sings and plays with such a distinctive style which you can feel the emotions he singing about...  check him out if you haven't already.

Anyway I better go and do some "real stuff" :-) If you are going to UKLUG see you there, please feel free to buy me drink

Wednesday 16 September 2009

A JS/CSS based star rating system for web pages

I was working on a project tonight that needed a "star" rating system and I had one from a while ago that you may find useful.

It works like this.

I have an image that is 20px wide and 40px deep
In the top 20x20px I have an empty star
In the bottom 20x20px I have a selected star like this

If I place this image as a background in a block type element sized 20x20px with a CSS style of background-position: left top; the user will be presented with the empty star. If on the other hand I position it with the CSS of background-position: left bottom; you will see the selected star.

So all I need to do now is create an HTML
(1) that has a hidden field for me to store the value that will relate to the number of stars selected
(2) that has a table were each cell is sized to be 20x20px
(3) where each cell has CSS with a background-image of my star picture
(4) where each cell as an onmouseover event that changes the css so that the background image's css is changed to be the bottom portion of the background image.

If it all works you will get something like this (sorry it is off site.. but blogger wouldnt play ball with the JS)

The code for the page in the link above looks like this . feel free to take and use as you see fit.. however if you do drop me a comment.. I like to feel i am being useful ;-)

background-image: url(star_rating.gif);
background-position: top left;
width: 20px;
height: 20px;
cursor: pointer;
<script = 'javascript'>
function star(a)
// reset all stars to blank
for(var t=1;t<=5;t++)
document.getElementById(t+"star").style.backgroundPosition="left top";
// Set new value in hidden field
// Set new value for display
for(var t=1;t<=parseInt(a);t++)
document.getElementById(t+"star").style.backgroundPosition="left bottom";
<body onload="star(3)">
This field below normaly be hidden <br>
<input type='text' id='likeem' name='likeem' value=""><br>
Now move your mouse over the stars below</br>

<table cellspacing='0' cellpadding='0' border='0'>
<td id='1star' class='star' onmouseover= "star(1)"></td>
<td id='2star' class='star' onmouseover= "star(2)"></td>
<td id='3star' class='star' onmouseover= "star(3)"></td>
<td id='4star' class='star' onmouseover= "star(4)"></td>
<td id='5star' class='star' onmouseover= "star(5)"></td>


Tuesday 15 September 2009

FireBug 1.4.2 in Firefox 3.5.3 suddenly stopped working - END OF WORLD!

Just a quickie ("Ding Dong Matron![twirl moustache & wink laciviously]")
Found out after much headless chicken panicking if Firefox is set to "Not remember History" (Options / Privacy / History) Firebug suddenly stops working.. makes sense when you think about it but BOY did it give me a turn!

Monday 14 September 2009

Users Rule #1 "Never ever ever piss off your IT Dept"

I was informed of this today and any users out there that happen to read this take the lesson it relates and use it wisely in your own dealings with IT Depts!

A user recently asked for a particularly inane and silly thing to be added to their mail file buttons. The request was dealt with in a professional and prompt manner before being ripped up, soaked in petrol and set on fire in the car park as the Help Deskers danced naked around it singing rude songs about user idiocy.

On this particular occasion it was felt that "action" needed to be taken so the user recieved this email in his inbox -

Dear Colleague,
as part of our belt tightening and cost cutting corporate wide programs it has been decided that as part of Directive 22C-#A100 that all employees should now use both sides of an email.

This will significantly reduce overhead and will contribute greatly to the company's plan to be totally green by April 2010. To facilitate this you will see a "RECYCLE" button at the top of your Inbox, please were ever possible use this when creating a new mail.

Our development team have created encryption techniques that totally obfuscate the other side of the email so there is zero risk of sensitive mails being read by unauthorized personnel.

Your immediate co-operation is expected and appreciated,

The ****** Collaboration Team"

The button was duly added to the mail file template with a simple @command ([compose];"memo") behind it

To the reporters knowledge the user is using the "other" side of emails even now much to the amusement of the team of BOFHs

Sunday 13 September 2009

Whats new in Domino 8.5.1 (redacted to protect the guilty)

Recently I had a chat with one of the people "in the know" and he/she/it was effusive in his/her/its praise for the forth coming and long awaited release of ver 8.5.1, this is what he/she/it told me ...

Domino 8.5.1 is very ------------ It will probably be on ----------- and as part of LotusKnows it will contain a free ----------- which not only vibrates at 1200Hz and can be used to ------ kettles can also be used for ------------- and ------------ but that is really only useful if you are a ---------------- with a penchent for doing ------------- to -----s

The new ------------ with added ---------- is really very useful and has been well received by all testers. ---------- now works as expected but can cause ------------- which may lead to -------------- and tears before bed. A series of Lotus videos will describe how to -------------- in glorious detail and technicolor ------------ but looks remarkably like --------- ----------- with a weasel in up his ----------- an effect that detracts from the overall production.

Changes to the ---------------- have removed all ---------------- from the -------- which is a great relief to anyone who has -----------------itis and uses curly ---------------s on a regular basis.

My contact was also keen to pass on the fact that xpages now come with ----------- which now allow you to -------------- and ----------- at the same time! MaryBeth does warn that this can lead to ------------- and ------------- and if left in place may cause your user's eyes to water. I for one look forward to this!

Performance issues have also been addressed with a vastly improved ----------------- and -------------- leading to ----------------------- but this is sort of like ---------ing with a ----------- warts and all !!

I for one am moist with and my -----------s are tingling with excitement

Monday 7 September 2009

The Sitting Down Committee minutes of the Domino Dander-ers Sept 2009

The sitting down committee (because standing just at the moment is not really that comfortable) of the Domino Dander-ers was held in Portallintrae, Country Antrim, Northern Ireland this weekend. (A "Dander" for my foreign readers is "a bit of a walk" in my very own Northern Irish lilting dialect).

The Committee was chaired by "Wander Woman", Eileen Fitzgerald because she has dandered up the great wall of China and sundry other things that go up as much as they go down and is the best qualified in all things of a dandering nature as she is in possession of not one but TWO camel pack's.

The rest of the team was made up of Matt White and Mark Myers who represented the marginially sensible phlange of the Domino Danderers and Bill Buchan and myself made up the quorum representing the "Old enough to know fecking better than to walk up that many steps without oxgyen, sherpas and a stannah chair lift " sub-committee.

The committee assembled using the good services of Easyjet, Stena Sea Link and the N1 from Dublin and all roads, ferries and planes converged on the small sea side town of Portballintrae where the comfortable if spartanlty furnished bus shelter orginally planned as our base was changed to the more wind and rain proof "Fermanagh Cottage" opposite Sweeny's Pub (bring your own towels in case the Vogon's invade), This change of venue also allowed for the use of a fridge to keep the beer, cider, wine, red bull, Iron Brew, Vodka, mars bars,Cadbury's Turkish Delight, black pudding and haggis at the correct temperature

Mr Myers and Mr White were first to arrive, followed closely by Ms Fitzgerald, who had unexpectedly (well for Mr Myers) brought several boxes of 2000AD comics for Mr Buchan. Mr Myers went into paraoxisms of delight and sat cross legged on the floor sorting them out into neat piles. Mr White, Ms Fitzgerald and myself looked on in wonder and exchanged quips of a slightly derogatory nature as is required when more that 2 geeks are gathered together in the name of domino.

Mr Buchan, duly arrived and in doing so both a critical mass and quorum was reached . The first sitting down committee of the domino danderers was in session. As I was driving home to Casa McDonagh I took my leave at 12:30am with strict instructions that we would be leaving at 10:45am to catch the bus and all members should be fed, watered and appropriately dressed by that time. Many raspberries where blown and wine bottles waved as I retreated into the midnight gloom.

Saturday started as is so often in the Irish Lesser Rainy Season with big grey clouds and the promise of showers, but it was mild and not too unpleasant as I set off to pick up the other Danderers from their overnight bacchanalia I was pleasantly surprised to find them sober and ready, having had a hearty full Norn Iron Breakfast.

Mr Buchan a neophyte danderer was most impressed with Ms Fitzgerald's Camel Pack and was offered the use of her spare pack. The rest of the committee had to physically restrain him briefy and explain that it should be filled with water and not beer, vodka or whiskey. Having "Fettled-up" we caught the bus to Ballintoy and started our dander.

We made a short detour to a "wee shop" so essential supplies could be purchased by Mr Buchan, namely 5 toffee crisp's which he assured us were not only the food of the gods but packed full of dandery goodness.
and off we set at a brisk trot down to Balintoy harbour. This is most of the committee ready to meet whatever nature would throw at them, note Mr Buchan's borrowed bondage Camel Back which he informed us
"Kept his boobs from wobbling to much". You can also tell this is at the beginning of the walk because
(a) we are all standing
(b) we are not all covered in mud.

From there we marched Briskly around the headland and onto White Park Bay beach where we were honoured by the sudden and all be it short appearance of a hot, bright yellow lotus logo in the sky. We where that surprised we felt we had to "point" it out.
From white park we scrambled around the base of the cliffs to the lovely small village (4 houses, a very very small chruch, and no pub) of Port Bradden. This bit of the walk was all relatively flat and mud less however it was around then we met the first folk from and Action Cancer sponsored walk going in the opposite direction it was noted by all the Domino Danderers that they were covered in mud and were puffing and panting rather a lot.
From Port Bradden we dandered at a respectable rate around to Dunservick harbour where The gentlemen tucked into Chocolate and the lady tucked into sensible high energy nuts and dried fruit. It should be noted that the rugby team in wet suits warming up for a spot of canyoning paid no part in Ms. Fitzgerald's accquiessence to a "bit of a sit" down at this point.
It wasn;t that much later when Mr Buchan asked "Are we there yet" , I informed him that "the pub was not that far away" and as you can see from this picture Mr White is shocked by the subterfuge as he unlike Mr Buchan actually knows how far a mile is..

...and on we dandered this time we had moved off the flat and were starting to go up and down, rather a lot and every now and then a wall or fence would block our path. Mr Buchan had not loaded his "dealing with obstacles" library and I have to explain to him how a style worked, being a consumate professional Mr Buchan contructed a Web Service on the spot, conpiled it and to Ms Fitzgerald's dismay may it live without complying with the recognised change control methodology
We reached the half way point and had a bit of a sit down, a bit more chocolate (or nuts and fruit) a sip from Mr Buchans hip flask and took the opperturnity to have the committee's photo taken, After a brief and heated discussion about F-Stops, Apatures and how to get the automatic picture taker widget thingie to work the offical picture was taken

At this point we were sitting on a bench 3 feet from the edge of a 150 meter cliff, hence the general look that any competent body language reader will tell you is the "I am gripping this bench with both buttocks and NOTHING is going to make me let go"
Onwards and upwards we went.. onto the causeway itself. Which it has to be said was a lot more breezy that when we started. I managed to loose my wallet (it has since turned up having stayed on the bus and taken a 250 mile trip to Dublin) and Mr Myers "ran" (yes i said ran) at a brisk trot back to see if it was at the bench.. The rest of the committee were treated to a view of Mr Myers yomping along the top of the 150 meter cliff like a 6 foot 2 mutant ginger goat.
It was around this time that Mr Buchan fell a little behind us and was seen surupticiously putting his iPhone away.. shortly thereafter an Airbus appeared very low in the sky and attempted to lower a grappling hook for Mr Buchan ... we were not amused!!!
I said a VERY rude word. because he could have got one for me too,

Mr Buchan was that shocked by the rude word that he had to pause for a moment to collect himself and put out his ears which had spontaneously combusted

In Due course we arrived at the bit of the giant's causeway that most people recognise. The gentlemen decieded that a wee sit down was in order and duely did so.

Ms Fitzgerald needed a different sort of sitdown and having failed to convince a rather unsympathetic bus driver of the urgency of her need took off at a brisk trot in search of the the specialised seat that she required for a satisfactory period of sitting and going "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh". Having rested for a while the gentlemen plodded somewhat wearily after the quickly disappearing Ms Fitzgerald.

There were several periods of having to stop and look at the awesome view, and NONE of thse stops had anything to do with cramp, dodgey knees, exhaustion,dizzy spells or the fact that it was a VERY steep hill. Mr Buchan was told half way up the hill that it was only 200m to a pub and pulled the remaining dander-ers up the hill at a hell of a rate.

Safely installed under the "no spitting" sign beside the fire in the downstairs bar of "The Nook", several celebratory pints were consumed (coffee for the drivers) and after a short (90 minute) meeting (rest) the final 2 miles of the walk back to the cottage was completed.

After cleaning up (and cancelling all my credit cards) the committee reconvened in The Harbour Bar, Portrush where an excellent meal was consumed (Thanks to all for standing Val and I the meal and drinkies in my hour of need - in that i had a total absence of any method of payment) and t'was after midnite before the Danderers took to their beds tired and full of Strawboffee (ask Bill if you can get him to stop dribbling)

I have to add at this point that while Eileen and Mark are resonably fit and bounded along with an excess of energy, the rest of the pack were somewhat less endowed with this bountious exuberance and although I have done this walk several times it still makes my knees sore, leaves me out of puff and that last hill to the pub is a killer!!! So mucho mucho kudos to Matt, who is a fairly recent Dandering acolyte and Bill for whom this was the first "long" and "pretty hilly" walk, You did 13 and a bit miles of serious walking .... chaps we are proud of you WELL DONE!

It should also be noted that there was more drink left at the end of our weekend than we consumed. i know we should really hang our heads in shame.. but we WERE being healthy so .. perhaps it can be excused ;-)

It has been agreed that the Domino Danderers will be come a semi regular thing in different locations, and any Domino (or non domino) reader that wants to join us on a 10-15 mile wander through the countryside is more than welcome to don their dandering boots and come along :-) Watch This Space!

Perhaps we may get to the point of being able to joing the master and misteress of Domino Dandering (Warren and Kitty Elsmore) on the Moon Walk next year :-)

Thanks to all the Domino Danderers for coming over and sharing one of my "big" walks .. walking by yourself can be quite lonely, and I had great (and very sober) craic having you with me, you are all welcome back any time :-)

PS Oh and KUDOS to Eileen for the great pictures above that enabled me to take the piss out of Bill you can see them all here

Sunday 30 August 2009

Going for a dander (a bit of a walk) with the Noterati of UKLUG

Greetings blog-0-philes!

A bit of a break in the blogwriting of late, mainly due to a bad case of too many projects and not enough time at "the coal face". I believe our far eastern colleagues call it "interesting" times. Well may it be interesting but it does make one rather knackered and not enthused to either Tweet or blog.

Anyhows ... Next week end the 4-6th September I am playing host to Matt White, Eileen Fitzgerald, Bill Buchan and Mark Myers on a part of what is regarded as one of the top 10 walks in Ireland.

The assembled Noterati will be bunking up in North Antrim town of Portballintrae a wee speck on the map where the River Bush (of Bushmills Whiskey fame) enters the Atlantic and in a foot note to the annals of world history also the place where I got married.

On Saturday we will do around half of the xTreme Causeway Marathon Course, which sounds awfully exciting, but it is not really that extreme when you walk it, running it on the other hand is very probably not only extreme but very very very silly!

We will take the bus to Ballintoy a 20 minute chug up the road from Bushmillsand from there we will head off down the windy single carriage road down to the Ballintoy harbour, past the very weird Bendhu house.
this rather idiosyncratic building was build by hand by Newton Penprase a Cornish "blow in" and he started it in 1936 and still had not quite finished it when he died in 1977.

From Ballintoy harbour we will head westwards on the coastal path. This will take us to White Park Bay
a rather beautiful and protected beach surrounded by limestone cliffs and a site of the very early human occuptation of Ireland after the ice sheet that covered Ireland retreated (7500BC)
From there if the tide is out we can get around the headland to the tiny Port Bradden, if not it is up the hill along the road and then back down hill again. Port Bradden has one of the smallest concecrated churchs, St. Gobban's

From Portbraden we will plod on around the costal path, past caves, thru sea arches as the cliffs change from limestone to black igneous rock that signifies the start of the lava flows that formed the Giants Causeway some miles westward. The next place of note is Dunseverick castle
There is not a lot left of this particular promintory fort, St.Patrick is meant to have visited this fort in 500AD and there are myths that place a fort on this site back even futher.. Legend has it that Conal Caernach a local who served the king that lived in this castle was serving as a roman solider and is believed to have wittnessed the crucfixion on Christ.
From Dunseverick we start to gradually rise as we enter the Giant's Causeway itself, gradually up and over Benbane head, past Port na Spaniagh where the Spanish Armada treasure ship "the girona" was wrecked

From there the ground starts to drop off.. until we come to the shepherds steps and down we go back the costal path
At the bottom of the steps it is only a quick dander to the famouse bit of the causeway, probably one of the most photographed landsacpe in Ireland.
The causeway itself is made up of 10's of thousands of 5 sided basalt columns like this

Having done the "ooo ahhh look at that" it is back up hill again to the Causway entrance... now there is a Pub at the gate called "the nook" which may or may not be used for some R'n'R and people watching.. Then back on the path again.. Around Runkerry Head, along Runkerry beach..
Across the River Bush, and we are back in Portballintrae.
All told about 12 miles, (yes we are trying to break Bill)
We may be asking you to dip your hands in your pockets for a bit of a donation towards the Macmillan Cancer Support charity. Surely anything that may well reduce Wild Bill to a size that will allow a kilt to be worn at UKLUG is worth a few pennies? :-)
Anyway more of that later...
If there are any Norn Iron Noterati free on the 5th Sept. We may well be in the Harbour Bar, rubbing our feet and drinking Guinness and you are more than welcome to come and join us and buy us drink ;-)
Watch this space and Twitter for details of how we do on our "wee dander"

Friday 14 August 2009

Ruminations about cyberlife (Quite NSFW)

Tis Friday again gentle reader, I have had a nice beer or two and the weekend beckons with it's all too few arces of non-work and I am am sat in my inner sanctum, the book lined computer powered shoebox that combines, library, studio and workspace I like to call it my "think-a-torium". Now those of you who visit from time to time will be used to the circularity of my writing style, those of you who happen upon this post by accident, well I apologise now.

Being a time served geek, all be it not a stereotypical one, I have in my time, BBS'ed, IRC'ed, AIM'ed, Yahoochatted and more recently Skyped my way through many 100's of megabites of bandwidth without a care in the world. For sure having had the advantages of a "norn iron" birth has helped in forming the occasionally foaming gobshite I have latterly become. This is in part the reason for this post the other part is the Pope, old white nighty Rapsinger himself, came out the other week in sort of favour of Social networking but with warnings that we the users of same should avoid obessing.

Obsess ? Us? Surely not? We geeks are all terribly grounded and scoff at such mundane character flaws. For us the simple act of obsession is only a precursor, a spot of adolescent fumbling foreplay before we get down to the main course of being complete and utter eejits. A state amplified because most of our "virtual" lives are free from the visual and auditory feedback loops that for countless millennia have helped us avoid (most of the time) the slaps, knees in the groin, black eyes and broken noses. Alcohol has the same effect as over exposure to the the virtual world, it depresses that bit of us that is careful and considerate of others and able to see the warning of that slight narrowing of the eyes that tells you to back down.You can see that every Saturday night in the eyes of Policemen seconds after you attempt to twist the inflated breathalyser bag it into the shape of a french poodle.

I was on one of the chat clients the other nite, one I hadn't been on for some time and it has been overrun with female 'bots touting for click-thrus "Come to my site and see my sexy pics" it seems gone are the days of the cut and thrust of flame wars on IRC or the deep intellectual persuit of that perfect insult, the thrill of the well turned profanity trying oh so hard not to fall to Godwin's law in the alt.activism.death-penalty newgroup I wonder if that charisma bypassed dried up golum Dudley Sharp is still doing the rounds on there ... oh he was a characterless twonk, you would wind him up and watch him foam and froth for days :-) happy times.... I digress

This chat system was full of interesting names in every room ... 9andahalfinches4u, letmewigglemy48dd, stokeitharder56 (I think that may have been a spelling mistake unless there is a club for people who like to stoke boilers??) For once I felt my own handle of SlothfulGeekSocks was much more illuminating about me the real person than than 99% of my fellow chatters.

I was approached by one of the folk the chat went like this :

EvilStudMaster: Age/Sex/Location?

[I studiously did nothing my finger poised over the "ignore" button]

EvilStudMaster: I bet you never had a real man ... :-)
SlothfulGeekSocks: Yes I can honestly say that I have never had a real man ...

[Which is true, i was warned about that sort of thing at Sunday school]
EvilStudMaster: I'm Horny .. what sort of underwear are you wearing?
SlothfulGeekSocks: Marks and Spenser's value pack of 5 with reinforced gusset marvellous value for £5.00
EvilStudMaster: You are a Brit then? I like British women
SlothfulGeekSocks: I am so glad
EvilStudMaster: Wanna Fuck?

With that I clicked the ignore button and left the chat room, has the state of the world got so bad that this is representative of the state of seduction in the on-line world. Gone it seems are the days when a swain would compose lines such as this by Christopher Marlow

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should love, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?
I would warrant that if EvilStudMaster tried that as an opening gambit he might meet with more success in his campaign to be wrapped in the virtual arms on an on-line Venus.

Perhaps old Bendy Dick Rapsinger is right, and it is not often I agree with the Pope, perhaps we do need a week or two AFK (Away From the Keyboard) a week or two when we can touch a flower, paddle in the sea, climb a mountain (or in my case a steep hill) and as Lewis Carroll would have it

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
of shoes--and ships-- and sealing wax--
of cabbages --and kings--
and why the sea is boiling hot--
and whether pigs have wings"

That's me I am done.. where is the beer?

Sunday 9 August 2009

A timely reminder about our attitudes !

I am a bit late to the game here.. but when I read Francie's post about the crap she has to put up with I got really really cross. Like Cuz Rob I am moving my post off Francie's or Kathy Brown's or Greyhawk's blog because I am still cross and I may trawl the epithets drawer more deeper than usual. You have been warned

My anger comes not only from the fact that I count Francie as a friend and colleague but that I have seen and heard exactly what Francie describes as

Turns out trying to minimize your gender in the way you look or act is a fairly standard thing, which I discovered after many conversations with other women in male dominated fields. And you might have guessed that this post isn't really about "just" me but rather about the effect those stereotype comments have and the lack of diversity that creates in turn.
How often do you have to watch what you say, how you act or look in order to not lose technical credibility?
FUCK! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I have been on the receiving end of a similar gender specific stereotyping. When I was nursing I was told by a senior nurse manager that ".. there is no place for men in this profession ... " When I mentioned my career to new colleagues for many there was an immediate reaction that was a look that said "...oh you are gay then..." This assumption was so prevalent and so strong that on two occasions I was approached by fellow nursing professionals who took it upon themselves to save me from the sin of "sodomy" during lunch. The assumption then and to a certain extent now is Male Nurse = Homosexual. Mostly I picked up that they considered this a bad thing, this was underlined by a "gentleman" in a bar one night, a husband of a colleague, came up to me and spat through clenched teeth "You fucking bender - can't you get a proper job?"before turning on his heel and walking off.

It was not being thought of as a homosexual that annoyed me, it was the assumption that that was in some way "bad" and I was somehow incapable of doing a proper job because of it. I still feel that folk who think like that can take a very long walk off a fucking short pier

Professional capability is NOT defined by what orrifice you prefer, the friends you have ,the clothes you wear, how big your tits are or how well turned your ankles are in a button boot or for that matter if you got more than an average thumping with the ugly stick..if you make assumptions based on any of the above you are a A+ Gold Plated petty, evil, small minded, fuck-witted TWONK!

Now Francie and Kathy do not need me to defend them , they are more than capable of doing that themselves and this post comes from me being mightly pissed off by the idea that every professional community I wander through seems to have it's share of arse holes who sit wrapped in a blanket of their own prejudices, pulling at the lace curtains of their cubicles and "tut tut"-ing


I was reminded the last couple of lines of a poem by Philip Larkin.

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence

Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

Emphasis mine.

A wander around the giants causeway

Today I took a wander alongt he full length of the Giant's Causeway (Clochán na bhFómharach in Irish) which was formed by
(a) The cooling of lava 50-60 million years ago
(b) Built by an Irish Giant Finn MacCool so he could go to scotland and beat up a Scottish Giant
(c) If you listen to the Causeway Creation Committee it was caused by Noah's flood 4500 years ago.

One of these is a myth, one a steaming heap of crap and the other probably the truth ... at this time I will leave you the reader to work out which is which.

However it got here it is on my doorstep (and the doorstep of The Bushmill's Distillery) and is a regular stomping ground for my weekend brisk walks. The summer is a bit worse that the rest of the year because it is (quite rightly) alive with tourists. I prefer it in the spring and autumn when there are less folk about and I can have the 5 miles of coastal strangeness to myself. If you are ever over this way you should have a look see, it really is rather spectacular :-) In the mean time here are some photos.


Friday 7 August 2009

Remembering ,.... the undiscovered worlds of Girls

I laid it all on the line for a lassie once.
Well, okay she wasn't exactly a woman.
I was fifteen and there was this girl in the same year as me but at the High School on the other side of town... Martina
God, she was beautiful.
I had the biggest dose of "Fancy Fever" on her. Of course, so did almost every other chap in my class. I knew I'd never have a chance with her but I went to The School Social with only one purpose in mind well maybe two purposes but I was only young and had very HIGH hopes. I digress my aim goal objective thingie was to get Martina to slow-dance with me. I figured if I could just dance with her once, even if it was just that one time, well... of such dreams are young male psyches made.

Anyway, I went, figuring I'd have to fight my way through a line of chaps just to get close to her. But when I got there... I couldn't believe it. Nobody was asking anybody to dance. The guys were all on one side of the hall, combing their hair and checking their watches and trying to look cool whilst MUD, KENNY and The GLITTER BAND did their 'thang on the turntables and trying so damn hard not to appear to be looking at the lassies. The girls were all on the other side of the hall, huddled in little groups, whispering to each other and pretending not to care if the guys were watching them or not. And there was Martina. She was sitting there listening to some friends of hers. She looked nervous and vulnerable, kind of lonely and just... irresistibly beautiful.

And that was when I realized, this was my chance. All the other guys who were looking at her the same way I was, were all too nervous to go near her. So I took a deep breath, walked right over to her and asked her to dance. And she said, "No."

Nothing else. Just no. I've never felt so many different things at one time. It was like a kick to the stomach, but also like a cold fist crushing my heart. I felt like I had a fever, like my skin was on fire, but at the same time I felt frozen inside. My heart was broken. My pride was shattered. And that was when I realized I was going to throw up... and that somehow I had to make it back to the anonymity of the darkness of the car park before that happened. So I turned and started walking away. God, I felt awful. I knew it would be impossible to ever feel worse than I did at that moment. And then I heard Martina .. laughing at me....

Hey ho.. many years have passed since then and is my understanding of women any better now? Is it F**K ;-)

Monday 3 August 2009

The first brush stroke is always the hardest

As part of the Xmas present giving this year one of my relatives bought me several canvases and I have yet to use any of them. They have been sitting under my desk calling to me, but one thing or another has been pushing me in other ways and away from the siren call of my artistic muses.

I unwrapped one of the canvases this evening , this is it.

It is one of the bigger ones (ooeerr matron!) 70x50cm and as I sit and look at I can see exactly what I want the finished work to be. I know what I want it to "say" to the viewer. I know the private bit of me that I want to expose in an act of creativity. I just have no idea where to start.

It has been said before many many times. That first brush stroke is the hardest, breaking the pristine whiteness of the raw canvas seems almost sacrilegious. Knowing that if you start you will have to see it through to the end, even if that end is a confusing mediocre mess that no-one likes. For that is the main reason to paint or draw or sculpt or write programs or market a product you want other people to see, to understand and to be challenged by the output of your imagination through the skills you have acquired in your life todate.

It is nice to have a painting, drawing, application or campaign that is a success and that is why I paint and why I write applications, if it were just something I "do" there would little to challenge me to learn more develop my skills try things a different way, I would just "do" it and the thrill mixed with fear of that first brush stroke would be lost.

That would not be a good thing. I am glad the canvas still scares me :-) Do your blank canvases still scare you?

Saturday 1 August 2009

Some new Sounds I have been listening too

Now this is The Freemasons Feat. Bailey Tzuke doing an Alanis Morissette song and I kinda like it...

Mainly cos I went to see her mother Judy Tzuke in the late 70's/80's, seems like a good voice runs in the family .. this is her mum in '85

Talking of famous mother + daughters here is Sophie Ellis Bextor "heartbreak make me a dancer" .. and she was the "bump" that caused her mother Janet Ellis a certain amount of blushing on Blue Peter.

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