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Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

I seem to be putting on some weight, or at least some waist. My belt feels a bit tighter than normal. Although I try to eat healthily, eating very few take-aways and ready-meals, I probably do cook slightly over-large portions.

At least my new policy of walking the mile-and-a-bit to the railway station is increasing my daily exercise so that should help. I'll also try to take less for lunch - possibly one sandwich instead of two, and should probably be a bit more restrained when free food turns up in work (cakes on birthdays or when people are leaving, spare sausage rolls or sandwiches when there have been meetings, etc). Todays lunch should be reasonably healthy: lettuce, tomato, home made potato salad using extra-low fat mayo, and some shredded chicken.

Hopefully all this should be enough. Although I don't have any scales to weight myself, if I keep using the same belt size then I should be able to tell whether it's working

The Black Screen of Death

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /

They seem to be having a few problems with the departures boards at Birmingham New Street. I took this photo last night, but it was also showing this interesting variant of the Blue screen of death last week. They seem to have sorted it (or simply rebooted) because it was working ok today.

bios screen
Update: 22/09/05
The above looks more like a Bios screen which you see when a computer starts up. Here is a 'proper' blue screen of death, on the same screen.
blue screen of death

Angel Delight Ice Cream

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

When we were in Aberystwyth over the weekend, we picked up a copy of the Somerfield magazine from the supermarket. There were a few good recipes in there which looked worth trying. One which caught our eyes was the Angel Delight Ice Cream, which was actually in the childrens cooking section. It was very simple to make:

  • Make the Angel Delight in the usual way
  • Put it in the freezer for 4 hours

It turned out to be a bit too hard - we possibly should have let it thaw slightly before eating.

Subway in Aber

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

One of the changes I noticed in Aber was the presence of a Subway sandwich shop, in a site which used to be a gift shop called 'JADS'. We went there for lunch and had the daily special, which on sunday is Roast Chicken. Obviously we had most of the extras as well: cheese, salad, onion, peppers, chilli (and in my case, olives. Emma had cucumber instead). It worked out cheaper than a pub lunch (mainly because Varsity didn't start their 2 for £5 offer until 3pm and the Wetherspoons is more expensive to eat at than the one in Coventry!).

Storyfilter Plugin updated

Story location: Home / computing / blosxom /

I have update the plugin to version 0.23 and fixed a few problems:

  • The keyword cache file is now rebuilt from scratch rather than waiting until all the stories have been viewed.
  • Rebuilding the cache can be forced by appending ?refresh=full to the url.
  • Bug fixed which stopped stories being viewed if they were in the blosxom main directory (ie not in a category) when /keyword was being used.

Download the latest version (version 0.23).
Further instructions are in the zip file.
There are still some problems with using /keyword instead of ?keyword= but they don't seem to be critical.

Sun, Sea, Sand, Rain and Aberystwth

Story location: Home / Blog /

Tonight was one of our regular Aber reunions for the MSc Comp-Sci course and assorted friends and hangers-on. When I say regular, it's usually twice per year - the last one (and actually the first one because most of us only moved away last year) was at Christmas. Todays event was a kind of pub crawl with a stop at Wetherspoons for food. We started off in The Glen on the sea front. Everything was going well until it started to rain. We retired indoors so people could play pool or lose to the quiz machine.

We moved to Wetherspoons for more beer and some food, then we had the usual discussions about which pub to go to next. We ended up in The Mill. Despite living round the corner from it in 2003/4, it was never one of my favourite pubs. There's nothing much wrong with it really, I think it might have been a bad first impression and a dodgy pint of so-called real ale. It was actually much better tonight.

Tradition dictates that we end the night in either Rummers or The Bay - we tried Rummers first but it was full so we made the trek back to the sea front for The Bay. I was starting to feel a bit full so we left after one pint. Earlier today, Emma wanted to go for a paddle but we didn't have time. We didn't want to leave Aber without having one so we had ourselves a midnight paddle on our way back to the B & B.

The fastest carpet in Mexico

Story location: Home / Blog /

I overheard a co-worker on the phone discussing the imminent arrival of new carpets. Every time the word 'underlay' was mentioned, I kept thinking of Speedy Gonzales with his cry of "Ándale! Ándale! Arriba! Arriba!"

Blosxom Benchmark Timings

Story location: Home / computing / blosxom /

I was curious as to how well blosxom would handle large numbers of articles - my main worry was whether it would slow down much if it had to sort through a lot of stories before displaying anything. The timings here are for 100,500,2000 and 10000 stories.

See more ....
Times are in milliseconds and are the average of 10 runs. If the'entriescache' plugin is used then blosxom seems to manage quite well.

Time (ms)
no of entries: 100 500 2000 10000
1. no plugins 2281 4091 8422 48452
2. no cache 2537 4392 12236 52570
3. entriescache reindex 2822 4533 14016 54172
4. entriescache normal 1159 1180 1269 1978


  1. All of the plugins removed before running the benchmarks
  2. All of the plugins except for entriescache
  3. entriescache using reindex=y to force reading all the files
  4. entriescahce in normal use

Blosxom seems to scale reasonably well with increased number of files, especially so when entriescache is installed. If a large number of stories are to be displayed, it's probably a good idea to have entriescache to only rebuild the cache when needed, by setting to a large number such as 999999 which would rebuild every approximately 2 years.

Map of the Moon

Story location: Home / links /

I found this interesting: moon.google.com. It's Google's way of comemorating the anniversary of the moon landings. Zoom in all the way.

Storyfilter plugin

Story location: Home / computing / blosxom /

Blosxom is a pretty good bit of blog software but it's main weakness is the inability to place a story into several categories without duplicate postings. This plugin is an attempt to recify that.
Storyfilter maintains a list of keywords and allows stories to be selected according to keywords. The keywords associated with each story can be displayed and if the user clicks on one, blosxom will display only those stories which contain that keyword.

See more ....

Download the plugin (version 0.16). Full instructions are included in the zip file.

The plugin is still in it's early stages of development and should be considered a very early beta. At the moment, when a keyword is selected, blosxom will only display stories which have been viewed since the plugin was installed. This is because as stories are viewed, the keywords are be added to a list. I hope to rectify this in a later version.

Poor mans café mocha

Story location: Home / Blog / work /

I was in the kitchen in work making myself a cup of tea and there was someone else in there, making a cup of cocoa. Before adding the water, he added a spoon of coffee. I've been drinking cocoa and coffee mixed together for years (when I used to work for a chemical company, the canteen had a free drinks machine and I used to get a cup each of cocoa and coffee and mix them together). I was surprised to see someone else doing this so I mention that I do that as well. We were both glad to find someone else who drinks "poor man's mocha".

Mouldy Bread

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

Last night, when I was about to make my sandwiches for todays lunch, I noticed that the bread had gone mouldy. I'll have to remember to start keeping it in the fridge now it's summer. I decided to make some tuna and cous-cous instead (not anus-anus which the predictive text on my phone comes up with).

Still too warm

Story location: Home / Blog /

Despite it being cooler outside today (after this weeks heatwave), it was still warm in work this morning. I wouldn't be surprised if they turn off the air conditioning at night to save money. By mid afternoon the office can get quite cold - I wish they'd get a decent balance for the temperature!

Radio for £1

Story location: Home / Blog /

A few weeks ago, I had to throw away my trusty portable radio, which accompanied me on many commuting trips to work. Since then I've been listening to my minidisc player (either music copied from CD or the previous days radio such as the Mark Radcliffe Show on Radio 2 and Radio 4 or BBC7 comedies).
Yesterday, Emma managed to find a pocket radio in one of the 'pound shops' in Coventry. The city has a wide selection of these places, from the ubiquitous Poundland and Home & Bargain shops to the 99p shop and I believe there is now a 95p shop. Out of all of these, the 99p shop is probably our favourite. Mainly because it occasionally stocks boxes of fig rolls and arabic imitation oreos.
Anyway, back to the radio. It only has 3 buttons - 'reset' and 'scan' to control the tuning and and a button to operate the weak and feeble built in torch. But it also came with headphones. The sound quality is acceptable and it's good value for £1 (although I did have to provide my own batteries!).

The dangers of eating flapjacks in work

Story location: Home / Blog / work /

After lunch, I decided to eat one of Emma's really nice home made currenty flapjacks. Unfortunately, the latest lot are a bit crumbly and my desk and paperwork ended up covered in oat flakes.

Spectrum Emulator

Story location: Home / links /

Possibly the most compete repository of ZX Spectrum info can be found at World of Spectrum. This is where I found the link for the emulator I'm using on my phone. I'm still playing the football manager game (and have won the FA Cup a few times). I still need to find more phone-friendly games though. Arcade games don't always play very well because of the small keys on the phone. I'll have to find some strategy games which don't use too many keys to play.

Gone Shoppping

Story location: Home / Blog /

I don't like shopping in supermarkets when I don't have a shopping list. Last night we went to Sainsbury's - there were a couple of things we knew we needed but the rest involved walking up and down the aisle looking at the shelves to see what we should buy. As usual we stopped at the 'reduced' section where they had a tub of their top of the range coleslaw and potato salad reduced to 35p. That'll make a nice (if unhealthy) lunch - I made the mistake of checking the fat content.
We couldn't find the breadcrumbs anywhere so we had to ask. I've always been a bit wary of asking in supermarkets ever since an incident involving a loud shop assistant in Chester when I was younger (us: "where's the mayonnaise?" . . . assistant: "THE MAYONNAISE!?!"). The breadcrumbs were eventually located, with the help of a normal-volumed assistant.

Photos of the new house

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

Here are some photos of our new house. Yesterday, we spent several hours trying to sort out the garden. The grass on the lawn was around 3-4 feet tall in places and we had to use shears to cut it - we collected 5 bin bags of garden waste, including 2 of various weeds and saplings which had taken root. The garden will require a lot more work - the lawn might need digging and re-seeding because so much of it is bare. It's going to be a fun summer!  

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The Spon End Fish Bar

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

Tonight, both of us fancied chips so we decided to check out the local take-aways. There are quite a few nearby - one we'd been to before was the Spon End Fish Bar, which does chicken kebab meat and chips for £2.50. Last time we were there they'd sold out of chicken so we just had chips, which were still nice. This time we were luckier. The chicken was tikka flavoured and there was lots of it - excellent value.