Archive for May 2011

Fly High, Fall Far

May 29, 2011

J.G. Ballard’s novella High Rise is about a luxury skyscraper building whose occupants are roomed literally according to their wealth and class. The lower classes are at the bottom, middle class in the centre and upper class have the most expensive apartments at the top. Petty squabbles take place that escalate and events descend into anarchy as class wars erupt. A nice holiday read.

The building where our company resides also has a hierarchical structure in place, though the placement of companies in our block fluctuates depending on their success. Some firms move up and down the floors as their fortunes change. No sooner do you get to know someone before Shazam! A rights issue has catapulted the risers up two floors into a better office. JW10, by sensible management, has kept its feet on the ground in its niche. Though, one day The Rockefeller suite will be ours.

One corporation in serious trouble is the Shere Group. High-flying empire builders, they used to be called The Shere Khan Group until Mr G. Khan fell off his corporate chair horse and had to be carried down the steppes. This journey taxed the firm so much they kicked Khan out. Shares in Shere toppled forcing them to decamp to a destitute lower floor with less floor space. The walls were bare except for a crumpled old photograph of Cher which mocked their arrival.

Before long the Shere Group will be in the underground car park; the lowest of the low. From day to day they will have to shift their desks as automobiles aggressively compete for the parking bays with little sympathy for the rights of the squatters. Squashed by a car will seem like a piece of carcass for Shere compared with the nightmarish scenario of being thrown out of the car park. Out in the street, it’s a jungle out there.


I’ll name that tune in two

May 25, 2011

The recent “external intrusion” or hacking as it’s called in computer lingo, of the Sony PlayStation network has raised serious doubts, yet again, about the safety of users’ personal information on “secure” servers. Sometimes to distance itself from a scandal a company may change its name. Sony used to be called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation). If they dump the new name and bring back the old, you heard it here first.

With the Sony empire caught in the kill zone, who will be next in the sights of a first-person shooter with the ability to hack? The forecast is overcast for Google and other rugged pioneers who have plans for a cloud computing scheme to soar over the atmosphere. Storing files, music and photos on a remote server is a ray of sunshine right enough, what happens if that valuable blog you’ve typed up in five minutes is corrupted or stolen by an invader? Have Google (originally called BackRub) a retrieving device or will that blog be beyond reach like an itch in the middle of your back you can’t scratch.

Personal computer attacks are as common as Wimbledon. Passwords are the first line of defence against intruders. It is recommended that you change your passwords often and try to incorporate x, y and z in the codes. This gives you a licence to use neologisms. Be careful though when playing scrabble lest you forget your word doesn’t exist except in your password box. It’s not nice to be labelled a scrabble cheat.

A three-strikes and you’re out mechanism exists on certain websites to stop cold callers guessing your password. Three wrong attempts and you’re frozen out. This makes it imperative you memorise your secret word. Experimentation with contextualizations is safer in the long run than your mother’s maiden name unless you happen to be the Singaporean Finance Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

As the digital world is awash with bugs, paper is making a comeback. Backing-up copy on Xerox (founded in 1906 as The Haloid Photographic Company) printers and filing in cabinets is the way forward. Kept at the correct temperature these documents will remain immortal as long as when you pore over old scripts you don’t pour cola (Pepsi was originally “Brad’s Drink”) on them. Apart from that, paper is foolscap, foolproof and invincible.

A Tribute to the Gers

May 16, 2011

Managing to wrangle a day off today, I took full advantage by partying all day yesterday. Still on a high I have only a sore throat to show for the excesses.

In what seemed mission impossible only a few weeks ago, Glasgow Rangers won their 54th (World Record) Scottish football league championship beating Kilmarnock in Ayrshire. A curio for the non-sporting and curious out there. Kilmarnock F.C’s home ground is called Rugby Park! Fittingly, the score was almost rugbyish. (Must remember to use rugbyish again when describing rugby)

Along with 40,000 other supporters my friends and I made our way to Ibrox Stadium after the match to celebrate with the team as they brought the trophy home. My camera phone captured poor quality images forcing me to raid You tube for better versions to parade. My pillaging is still at the betamax stage and the follow following video could change. Don’t adjust your settings or buy new glasses if you see different takes.

Forgive me this little diversion from more serious matters. At the beginning of the night (to turn around the old football cliché, at the end of the day) sport is just a form of entertainment and escapism. Now and then, though, it does bring fulfilling happiness. It was a day of good cheer, good beer with lively, good company.


May 14, 2011

One of the best feats of juggling I ever witnessed was by a pupil at the Xavier school for gifted youngsters. This skilled conjuror could demonstrate the exact orbit of Jupiter and its many moons using juggling balls of various sizes. The trajectories of the balls were in irregular patterns rather than just thrown up and letting gravity do the rest. Special spins and sideways quicksilver wrist movements re-created perfectly Jupiter and its many satellites.

While waiting my turn in the pool hall I picked up a spare cue ball and a piece of chalk with the intended aim of juggling the tracks of Earth and the Moon. Now I’m not sure if the proportions are right or not and though there’s a crater in it the chalk is the wrong shape of the moon, these accoutrements were all I had.

Within a few moments (more…)

Two Tribes go to the mattresses

May 13, 2011

Cyber surfers must be sick of reading about Word Press v Blogger match reports. The pro’s and con’s of both platforms are well-documented and these two giant blog-service providers divide public opinion sometimes to the detriment of more important issues. For instance, the ongoing legal dispute between Barbie and Bratz over ownership rights has been pushed to the sidelines. Barbie’s boyfriend Ken is not happy with this.

I had a domain over at Word Press (WP) which I retired or so I thought. Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in.

Sensing an opportunity against a weakened Blogger, the WP CEO paid me an unexpected visit. With SWAT precision he grounded his helicopter on my Helipad. He produced important documents and made me an offer that was hard to refuse. Come back over to them or I’ll wake up with a dead tractor at the bottom of my bed. Now I’ve been headhunted before and I don’t scare easily- I’ve seen Saw and all its Roman numeral sequels- it was the Massey Ferguson 690 I was worried about. 4×2 2WD chassis, 90 inch wheelbase, 52.38 drawbar horse power. It was too beautiful to die.

(Drop dead gorgeous: The Massey Ferguson 690)

Alerted to WP’s overtures, at a stroke the CEO of Blogger, shot straight from Blogger HQ, jettisoned in from a cannonball to the bottom of my swimming pool. After it was hung out and dried, a new improved contract for me at Blog Spot was put on the table. WP man doubled the stakes on his manuscript forcing Blogger guy to raise his price. The bidding and counter-bidding continued. This was a live version of e-bay with my worthless vocation at stake. We reached DEFCON I. The WP executive called in Action Man.

This was a considerable show of strength as it was the figure with the movable eagle eyes. Resistance was pointless against this formidable commando as he frog-marched me towards the dotted front line. Then from outside the window a car’s horn was heard. Looking out I saw Ken. Yes, that Ken. With Barbie never out of court these days Ken had nothing to do so he fancied a fight. Furthermore he had brought back-up. In the pink car all dressed in pink battle fatigues was someone familiar.

“Hello sailor boy! I’ve come to save your rear, umm, career.”

Something borrowed, Something blue…

May 9, 2011

Planning and executing a perfect kidnap must be quite a complex task, I’d imagine. However, this first part of the crime seems the easiest. The final stage, involving the handing over of ransom money in exchange for the prisoner is fraught with difficulties. There must only be a few cases where the authorities are aware of the transaction and the criminals get away with it.

The complications in the swapping process were uppermost in my mind as I went to meet a friend that had a book belonging to me. Another thing is sometimes those paying the money are getting back damaged goods. It’s been known for kidnappers to chop fingers off their victims. Yet, people will still pay top dollar for what is to all intents and purposes, second hand merchandise.

Approaching the rendezvous that had been delayed and delayed for weeks I could see my friend’s (more…)

Scar Wars

May 8, 2011

Long ago, in an outpost of cyberspace as far, far away as France, a magnificent blog post was published in All the Days of Dolores. This innocent story of gravel brought about an act of war perpetrated by a member of the evil Galactic Empire of Rugbyistas. Darth Islander dared challenge his blood brother from the footballing side of the family to a “Scars” contest.

Precedence shows that the rugby guy is a ham B-movie actor, while the footballer is a true Captain. You probably won’t believe this but the football player is called Butcher. We love you, Terry.

Darth’s paltry scratch can be viewed here at the Canary Hotspot.

Football scars have I many. No one in the family was brave enough to photograph the gravel rash on the back of my thigh and as I am not a contortionist it will have to remain anonymous. Ominously, I add, for now.

Therefore I have decided to put forward my forearm scar. Now how did you get a scar on your forearm playing football, you may ask? Without a word of lie, I did. Our ball was miskicked into a nearby field by a player who ended up playing rugby, naturally. As the best climber I was told to climb this high metal mesh fence to retrieve the round ball. On reaching the top and jumping down I caught my arm on a ragged piece of metal that was sticking out.

The photograph is clearly not a fake as an almanac of the complete record of Scotland’s greatest institution is on show. This means I don’t need to scribble my JW10 copyright. I’m not sure if anybody is familiar with an old competition in the newspapers called “Spot the Ball”. This was a photo of a football match with the ball airbrushed out. Entrants were invited to mark an x where they thought the ball was. The winner was the nearest x. This photo is more “Spot the Scar”.