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Month: November 2003

News Commentary: Mobile Phones and Driving

Shortly in the UK (1st December), it’s going to be illegal to drive your car whilst using a hand-held mobile phone (aka a “cell phone”).

Whilst I’m all in agreement with making our roads safer, I’ve got to take issue with a report on my “East Midlands Today” News (my local BBC news service broadcast in the BBC 10 O’Clock news on TV). In it, either a reporter or interviewer said that drivers can be fined if the mobile phone is not in a fixed cradle (showing someone install the mobile phone cradle at that point) and then they said that having the cell phone on your lap with a cheap (in my phone’s case, free) earphone and microphone would result in a fine. However, I’ve got to question that – what’s the difference between the phone being in a cradle (ie not hand-held), being in your lap (ie not hand held) and my “personal preference idea”: being in a shirt pocket with the ear-piece? According to the DFT’s Mobile Phones and Driving: Frequently Asked Questions document, there doesn’t seem to be much difference…

Spam: Customer Data, Let’s Sell It!

My system has just tagged that (aka and have sold on their mailing lists with one of my email addresses to a spammer. I receive almost identical emails to two tagged addresses: one I used on, the other contents follow….

Both were sent from were “injected” directly into my incoming SMTP server (instead of being sent via their ISP), both claimed to have been sent via Eudora, and both had incorrect/faked Message-Ids (that message ID’s were actually created by my mail server). Oh – and they were both in HTML format and had “web bugs” in them (images loaded from a remote server which would enable the spammer to see who opened the email and therefore whose email address was valid).

Needless to say, both spams got reported via to their upstream providers.

Personal: How the h-ll did that happen?

I had today off work as a kinda holiday (due to the server migrations we’ve been doing, I’ve been putting in some serious overtime the last fortnight: around 3 hours every night) and managed to make an appointment next Wednesday (the 3rd of December) to see my Doctor concerning a few health issues I’ve been slightly worried about. I hope it’s just a case of Psychosomatic Hypochondria which can be treated with a cause of Placebos ( 😉 ), but you never know. I suspect I’ve got high blood pressure as every weekend that I’m at my parents (which is every fortnight), I’ve been taking my BP and it’s been extremely high… Plus I’ve been having pains in my chest quite a bit recently and (especially for the last 2.5hours today), been feeling really “light headed” and like I’m about to faint (I haven’t yet though…).

Anyway, I was just downstairs reading a magazine whilst Zaphod (my “spare” computer) installs Linux and I thought I’d weigh myself (the “really interesting” article about “Posh Spice” – Victoria Beckham made me think of weight) so I got on my digital scales. 14stones. Aaargh – must be a mis-reading. Got off, got back on 11stone 2lbs. Ahh – that’s better, but that could be a mis-reading as well (as digital scales can be “funky” sometimes). Next three weighings all give 14stones exactly.

How the h-ll did that happen though? Last time I weight myself, I was 13stone 10lbs and loosing weight (around 2 months ago) so how on earth have I practically gained a stone in weight recently? That weight gain, combined with my height of 6ft 2in (yeah, I’m British but I still use good old Imperial measurements) puts me officially in the “Overweight” category (my Body Mass Index is 22.5). This is shocking! Especially for me as most of my life I’ve been in the “underweight” category…

*gulp*. I know I’ve been drinking a lot of Cola recently, eating sweets and having sugary foods such as pancakes, but still… And I’ve only been eating/drinking those cause I’ve felt thirsty and just really really felt like eating something like that (it makes me feel better – see previous entry).

I just hope the Doc’s got some good news, but the way things are looking I’ve probably got the onset of diabetes or something similar. Gak.

Personal: Pancake Recipe

Whilst I’m logged into Richy’s Random Ramblings content management side 😉 and in the “Aid to Memory” train of thought – I thought I’d just note down this Pancake recipe. Ok, it’s months away to Shrove Tuesday (the traditional time for Pancakes), but I really like Pancakes but can never seem to have a recipe to hand – but no more… 😉

Anyway – the recipe should make 12 pancakes, but I managed to squeeze just 3 out of the ingredients (saying that, packets of “batter mix” which say 8 pancakes gives me 3 pancakes as well so…)

This is a “quick and simple” recipe so don’t expect “perfect pancakes” from it(!)

You will need: Around 100g of plain flour (3.5oz), 1 egg, half a pint of milk (300ml), a little bit of salt and some butter or frying oil.

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the egg
  2. Mix and add the milk until the batter is smooth
  3. Warm up frying pan and coat the base lightly with oil/grease/butter. Add batter to cover base of frying pan. Cook until the pancake moves freely (around a minute). Flip pancake over (or toss it if you are feeling daring). Cook again until golden (around 30/45 seconds).
  4. Serve with sugar (yum) and lemon juice
  5. Eat pancake whilst cooking the next one: repeat until batter runs out then make some more 😉

Techy: Recursive Find and Grep

Here’s another little Linux “script snippet” I’ve needed over the past few days: basically, give it a directory/folder and it’ll search all the files in that directory for a set word, words, phrase (or even a string of characters). Very handy if you can tell that a server obviously knows about the domain, but try as you might – you can’t figure out which site the domain name belongs to (as it’s an add on domain and the dratted Ensim control panel won’t allow you to show it). Quick search on the Apache configuration folder and bingo!

I’m entering it here so a) if anybody else needs it, they can easily find it by searching for things such as “grep”, “recursive”, “search”, “linux”, “files” and “find”, and b) so I don’t have to bother remembering the syntax myself 😉

find [start folder name] -type f -exec grep ‘[text you are searching for]’ {} \; -print

Quick explanation:

  • “find XXX”: search the following folder(s)
  • “-type f”: for file(s)
  • “-exec”: then run the following command:
  • “grep ‘search text’ {} \;” use the grep function to search the file for the text
  • “-print” and then display the file name and details