Thought I would share this little tip.

The auto form filling drop downs, they pop up when you fill in your username, and if you are not careful in checking that you really tabbed to the password, you can end up with an auto-fill entry that consists of your username and password concatenated together.

It’s a bit of an embarrassment every time you revisit that login page.

The tip: you can just arrow down through the list of options and hit the delete key to remove them permanently.

Obvious really I guess.

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Warren Buffet

I’m not the sort to idolize people. I never had any real heros when I was a Kid. So when I quote somone, it’s because the idea meant something to me rather than who they are.

I came across a short article on lifehacker, in short: Warren Buffet gets someone to list the 25 most important things they want to achieve, then asks them to pick the top 5 to execute. He asks the person what they are going to do about the other 20, and when they say ‘fit them in when they can’, he says that they are wrong; what they need to do is ignore them.

I seem to have arrived at a point with too many projects, and too little time. So I’m going to try that advice. FWIW I’ll track how it goes here.

For the record the 5 that matter to me are:

  1. Mastering .Net to my own satisfaction.
  2. Learning to draw comic book concept art.
  3. Improving my skills as a mathematician.
  4. Writing something and selling it.
  5. Writing some Mac/iOS apps and getting them on the app store.

Now as it happens i’m an experienced programmer who can writ and draw a bit, and my background is in Computational Physics so I’m not starting from nothing. I’m alerady considered a skilled .Net developer and I’ve done Apple development as well.

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Phone Scam

This was a scary one. Someone attempted to scam my wife last night.

It worked like this – She got a call purporting to be from the police, reporting that they thought her debit card has been cloned. They advised her to contact her bank.

She phoned the bank and was apparently put through to their call center.

In fact what happened was that the original caller never hung up. In most phone systems the caller opens and closes the connection.  So she was still connected to the con men.

I’m not sure if they played a dial tone down the line after my wife hung up, she didn’t check.

She dialed her banks number and the scam artist’s software converted the tone signals to the number and matches it to the bank, so that the impostor could respond appropriately.

In our case we were suspicious because we were at a temp address not associated with our bank account, and after asking the normal security questions the impostor wanted my wife to key in her whole pin code. A bank wont do this! (as it happens I was involved in writing the call center software for the bank we use.)

In speaking to the real bank representative later (on another phone) apparently this scam is becoming more common, and would complete with someone turning up at the door pretending to be a police man with a realistic warrant card to take the card as evidence…

So this is just an example of how this scam is attempted – the thing to look out for is having to call someone after a phone call – if the previous caller didn’t hang up – you are still connected to them.

Bottom line – you need to use a different phone to contact your bank in an event like this e.g. your mobile.


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New Year Resolution

So… In attempt to make the worlds least likely to succeed new year resolution, I decided to spend 2013 learning more things than seem sensible.

The plan is to spend no more than 1 hr on each per week, mostly in the evening…


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Spam Email

Gosh spammers are starting to work hard.

Normally you can see from the email address that it’s rubbish – for example a recent ‘linked in invitation’ was from “LinkedIn.Invitations” <>

Bit of a giveaway.

This one though is almost to a much higher standard (headers):

Return-path: <>
Envelope-to: X
Delivery-date: Tue, 16 Oct 2012 03:00:18 -0600
Received: from [] (port=44252
	by XISP with esmtp (Exim 4.76)
	(envelope-from <>)
	id 1TO309-0005p0-F1
	for; Tue, 16 Oct 2012 03:00:18 -0600
Received: from ( [])
        (using TLSv1 with cipher RC4-MD5 (128/128 bits))
        (No client certificate requested)
        by (Postfix) with ESMTP id A491CF94889
        for <<X>> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 14:29:48 +0530
Received: from ( by ( with Microsoft SMTP Server (TLS) id
 8.1.436.0; Tue, 16 Oct 2012 14:29:48 +0530

Especially if you know that BT own…

The double angle brackets around my email address (replaced with X, ISP email server with XISP) are a bit of a presentation downfall, but the long faked headers ( aren’t too bad.

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The Path to Revolution

I read something a while ago that keeps coming back to haunt me. It’s in the introduction to Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution.

Today there are a lot of actions by governments, particularly that belonging to the USA, that represent an erosion of  freedom. Other events that demonstrate the growing power of the rich.

In response to this there are some popular actions, OWS for example. Mostly, there is discussion along the lines of “what can be done?”, or “Will anybody do anything?”

The observation that haunts me is that all of human history has been like this. There is oppression that most people resent, but they do nothing. Until it reaches some sort of threshold, at which point id descends into rioting and mass insurrection.

And Trotsky seems to suggest that is the only outcome that will change anything, and that the result of that change is uncertain.

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Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Wow. Ok perhaps a little whimsical to be my perfect book, but on a par with “The Gone Away World”. Better characters but less wild imagination perhaps.

My main concern is that I may not get to hear more about Edie Bannister.

I will tell you nothing other than “Buy it”.

([Edit] Yipee – there is what looks like an Edie Bannister short story available on the kindle)


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Redshirts by John Scalzi

Is an entertaining jaunt. It’s not “ruin-your-underware funny” as suggested on the cover, but it does hit that difficult combination of light tone with a real story line.

The plot is deliberately unlikely, but written in such a manner as to make me want to stay along for the ride. It makes use of several tropes popular in  Star Trek but makes much, much better use of them.

If I have any criticism it is that several of the characters are a little hard to differentiate. Given the nature of the story this isn’t too surprising.

3/5 [entertaining]

Just to review my scoring:

1/5 [I thought it was bad, will give away my copy]

2/5 [Readable but an effort to finish, 
     would not buy the next in a series]

3/5 [Entertaining, 
     solid work, 
     would buy the next in a series]

4/5 [Well written, Entertaining, 
     Spark of imagination, 
     will buy the next in a series]

5/5 [Inspired, 
     desperately waiting on the next if a series]
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Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

An interesting number of authors have lined up to good things on the cover of this novel. I have to say I’m not sure why.

The plot, politics in a fantasy city is potentially very interesting. It is well worked out and makes good use of language. My difficulty in enjoying the book is caused by the difficulty in becoming interested in the characters.

The two main characters Richard and Alec are potentially interesting. Richard is a swordsman for hire and Alec is a self harming scholar with a mysterious background.

But, and a big but it is, you never really feel anything for them apart from a certain dislike for the deaths they cause.

You never really know much about what they feel, In fact in the case of Richard it is clear that in many cases he doesn’t feel anything. Even at the end, you know little about their back stories.

I don’t hod to the idea that people can be completely explained by their pasts, I’m old enough to have seen different people respond to similar events in in very different ways. And have known them long enough to see that part of that is who they are, not just what has happened to them.

So I don’t expect a pat logical back story which “explains” the character, but I do expect enough back story to reveal them.

Another smaller issue was that there was perhaps too much use of exposition rather than demonstration in many places.

As a trivial example: “…Lord Thomas was full of gossip. Some of it, gratifyingly, was about him.” Now as a one off, no issue. But I would rather have an example of the gossip presented, and the character react to it rather than just be told.

Oh, and all the good guys and gals (depending on your definition) are generally handsome/beautiful. The “bad guys”: one has grown old, the other has one eye.


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Ok – just seen Prometheus.

Question: What was Mr Scott Smoking?

That made NO sense at all. Children tell better stories.

It was wonderfully made. But still wonderfully made rubbish is still rubbish.

Did he get pissed off with people going “make another Alien” or something?

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