So, the man on the radio was probably nervous. (Who wouldn’t be, interviewed on “Today” on Radio 4, which by necessity means you’ve been untimely ripped from your bed.) It did sound like something he’d rehearsed, but probably not something he’d listened to. Still, I’d like to think he wishes he hadn’t said it now:

“It’s always wrong to generalize about anything.”

Thanks to the power of the BBC’s Listen Again, I have discovered that it was Grant Hearne, Chief Executive of Travelodge talking about private equity financing of businesses.

Yesterday I couldn’t even spell plummer..

Tool and Pipe
Originally uploaded by DerekL. I are one.

It started when Robyn noticed something growing on her bathroom ceiling. Closer inspection revealed an excessive amount of damp.

Up into the loft I went, and the insulation under the cold pipe to the shower was completely wet through, as was the plasterboard ceiling. I couldn’t see anything on the pipe though, so I mopped up.

Next day, I looked again, and this time I did notice water leaking from the end of the lagging. When I took more lagging off I could see a very slow drip from much further down the pipe – it had been running along the lagging before escaping. I tried some very old (too old in fact) pipe sealing goo stuff. It didn’t stick so I put a tin under the drip and asked my Dad for advice. He told me of the magic of push-fit connectors and pipe-cutters.

The next day I checked again. The sandpapering I did to the pipe to make the goo work had obviously made the hole bigger, and the tin was full. Now I could see a very fine spray. This time I turned the water off.

Originally uploaded by DerekL.

I thought I’d go to the newly opened Screwfix Trade Counter, but I was a week early. I had to go to Plumbase across the road where the cutter was £20 (but “Made in England”). When I got home I had fixed it in 10 minutes. Magic. (It would have been 5 minutes, but when I first cut the pipe I discovered that I hadn’t quite turned the water completely off, and had to scramble like a loon back across the loft to the tap.)

Slightly Dugg

You probably know about Digg and the Digg Effect, which is slightly similar to being “slashdotted”.

Thankfully, that hasn’t happened to me, but I was brushed by it. Today I read a Digg article about a “hollow screen” image – the trick of putting an image on a screen which makes it appear that the screen is transparent. It’s on flickr, and it’s quite a good picture, and one of the comments on that picture pointed to another image.

I have a “hollow screen” picture, which I made nearly two years ago, and this morning it had 121 views. So I added another comment pointing at my picture, and now – just 8 hours later – it has 1497 views and an extra comment.


No "War on Terror"

I don’t normally comment on comment – although isn’t that what Blogs are for? Many years ago I used to write a topical “Phrase Of The Day” on the whiteboard at Harlequin and even kept a list of them on one of the first web pages I ever wrote (sadly internal only in those days, and location currently unknown).


The front page of the Guardian yesterday (which I only read today, rural paper delivery having a somewhat random nature) had the most marvellous paragraph, written by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald:

“It is critical that we understand that this new form of terrorism carries another more subtle, perhaps equally pernicious, risk. Because it might encourage a fear-driven and inappropriate response. By that I mean it can tempt us to abandon our values. I think it important to understand that this is one of its primary purposes.”

Read more of this clear thinking here.

Light Bulb

Light Bulb
Originally uploaded by DerekL.

This lightbulb is at least 15 years old – because it moved house with us in October 1991 – and probably a couple of years older than that.

It was one of our first low-energy lightbulbs, it weighs a ton, and says “18W 800 lumen” on the side. Dunno what that is equivalent to in standard watts, which is what they all say now.

We had it on the landing, because we left the light on when the children went to bed and didn’t turn it off until we retired. That used to be later. Nowadays, obviously, we go to bed first – at least when Donna is home.

So why mention it? It has finally died. Pretty good value, even if I have no idea how much it cost. I’ll quite miss it, the way it flickered into life and got gradually brighter as it warmed up. And it helped raise the children.


Blue Mini, white roof, personal number plate.

The number plate was just a coincidence – we saw an advert in the local paper for a mini of the right price and didn’t see the registration until we got there. Perhaps that should have been a warning.. still, I couldn’t resist.

I hadn’t had it long, and was driving home from my summer job in Rochdale when there was a particularly large crack from underneath. The subframe at the back had broken. When we looked closer, it had obviously been cracked already and covered up with filler. With my Dad’s help and a visit to the scrapyard we replaced the subframe. The really fun part was replacing the hydrolastic suspension pipes. Apparently, the method recommended for home repairs is to put some tyres down and tip the car on its side whilst you thread the pipes in. We left them on the outside.

There was always a leak in the coolant system. In fact, it came with a 5 litre water canister in the boot. You could tell it was time to top it up when the heater started blowing cold air.

I think the finest hour was a trip from Leeds to Hull (to see Magazine at Hull College of Further Education, March 1979) with Fat Tim and four other engineering students – two in the front seat, and three in the back!

I did manage some minor repairs – I fixed the gear linkage once – but eventually it all got out of whack at once and was just too short of power.

Vauxhall Viva HA

Christmas 1975, the first after my 17th birthday. I wanted a guitar, not desperately, just a vague notion that it might be a good thing to have. Instead, as a total surprise, I got a car.

It had been bought for £40 and my Dad had been “fixing it up” secretly. It had also been cunningly taken to Blackpool from Bury and put outside my grandparents house on Christmas Eve without my knowledge so that it could be revealed on Christmas morning with a flick of the curtains.

The other part of my present was that it was insured for me to drive, for the princely sum of £60. In my own name, third party only. How times change.

I learnt to drive in it, and failed my first test in it. (I passed on the second attempt after  5 30 minute lessons from the British School of Motoring.) I drove it to school occasionally, and collected Phil and his mates from their school. I even managed to get to Leeds University for an interview in it.

It eventually died of a complete lack of power sometime in early 1977, I think.

One Day in History

History Matters have decided that 17th October 2006 is the day for a

“one off opportunity for you to join in a mass blog for the national record. We want as many people as possible to record a ‘blog’ diary which will be stored by the British Library as a historical record of our national life.”

Here’s my day:

I’m going to work “early” at the moment because one of our sub-contractors is a single parent and has to work around the school day, meaning I have to be at the office in Wilburton for 8:20am. It’s not really a hardship – I only have to leave Willingham at 8 o’clock – but  I used to have half an hour after Wendy left for work to read The Guardian. If I’m lucky it’s today’s paper, but the paperboy has been getting late recently so often enough it is from the day before.

I listen to “Today” on Radio 4 in bed, then Chris Moyles on Radio 1 in the shower and with breakfast (Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, orange juice and coffee). Sadly, Chris Moyles is on holiday for two weeks signing copies of his book, Scott Mills is his unlistenable replacement and I’ve tried Wogan on Radio 2 but the music is just appalling, so it’s a CD for now. Paulo Nutini this morning.

The traffic is normal (last week there were accidents on the A14 and M11 and it took me 45 minutes), so I am first to the office to unlock the building. The travelling sandwich van from the nearby garden centre calls at around 9, and creature of habit that I am, I nearly always have tuna and sweetcorn.

I am one of five founders of a Design Services company, essentially a computer hardware and software consultancy, and we currently have 7 sub-contractors working with us. Tomorrow will be our 4th anniversary, and we have just bought our own building which we will be moving into early next month. Some of the day is spent discussing the work we need to do before we move in, and we tell the building contractor to start on extra partitions as soon as possible.

I’m working on a job which involves Windows CE, and a new Board Support Package was issued for the processor module today, so I downloaded that, updated Platform Builder, and re-built the operating system image for the development system and the system board we have developed. That took most of the day.

I did get a new toy in the post, an iCast FM transmitter to get sound from a PMP (iPod) to the car radio. Currently illegal, on the grounds that you might be a very small scale Radio Caroline, but due to be allowed any day now. And the reason I need that is because the new (to me) car I’m collecting on Saturday is too new to have a cassette player, but too old (or too low spec) to have an aux input socket.

Just as I was ready to leave at about 5:20, we had a discussion about a possible product development. It’s a big step for the company, and we talked for a while, so I didn’t get back until Wen had left to work in Willingham library. I stopped there on the way home, because by the time she gets back I’ll be out playing badminton with the village club in the Ploughman Hall.

Home for tea – bread, roast beef, tomato and a little TV – “The Gadget Show” which was recorded last week sometime on Sky+. Then off to play badminton where there was a large turnout so we played short games to 11 points. I won 3 out of 4 matches, so perhaps that length suits me.

After Badminton,  which ends at 10pm, and a shower, channel surfed until I found the shopping scene in “Pretty Woman”. We watched that for a while, before retiring around 11:30.

Cottenham Fire

Cottenham Fire
Originally uploaded by DerekL.

On my way home from work tonight I followed a plume of smoke in the sky down a country lane in Cottenham, and there was a field of wheat ablaze. I wonder if farmers can get insurance for this kind of thing?

The fire brigade arrived to damp it down before it reached the houses on Cottenham High Street.

In a fit of multimedia madness I also put a video on YouTube. The noise you can hear is actually the roaring and crackling of the flames.