Sunday, May 10, 2009

HMS Illustrious

Thanks to a very generous invitation from Ian, I enjoyed a tour of HMS Illustrious yesterday afternoon.

I will be the first to confess that I know almost nothing about the military so I had little idea what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the crew were and how keen to show us around and explain how things worked.

The first thing that struck me was quite how large it was:

 

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The second most surprising thing was how much access they gave us.  This is the "steering wheel":

 

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And this is the ski-jump, which we were allowed to walk to the top of.  I was pleased to see they had installed a small net to catch anybody who happened to fall off...

 

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However, this was the only piece of pandering to the health-and-safety mafia.   The James Bond-esque sinking floor was, gloriously, left entirely unprotected with fences or warning signs when it dropped away and left a gaping hole in the deck.  Hurrah!

 

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Even more impressive was the machinery that underpinned this little piece of magic:

 

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So, thank you to Ian for the invitation and to the Royal Navy for opening themselves up to ignorant people like me.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Blackbirds

A couple of blackbirds are hanging around by the flat and I'm convinced they must be servicing a nest somewhere but I just can't figure out where it is.

It would be quite nice to watch the young birds as they fledge but, knowing my luck, I'll probably miss it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Grand Central

I took the train to York yesterday for a customer meeting.  The timing wasn't locked down until quite late so I wasn't able to book my ticket until Saturday evening.

So I was probably naive to be shocked by the prices quoted for the journey. 

However, I played around with the "single tickets" option to get the price as low as possible and managed to get a reasonable fare by taking a hit on the (peak) outbound and getting a great deal on an off-peak "any train" ticket for the return journey.

However, it was only when I picked up the tickets from the machine at King's Cross on Monday morning that I realised that my off-peak return ticket was actually with "Grand Central" rather than with National Express East Coast.

Now this could have been a big problem: they only run three trains a day in each direction so it drastically reduced my options. However, their 14:10 departure from York fitted with my plans so I wasn't too upset.

It proved to be a good mistake to have made... the journey was smooth, with no station stops at all and it arrived on time.

Nice to see competition on the railways in action!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Can it be true...?

... that Tower Gateway DLR has reopened?!

I'm working from home today as I find it impossible to prepare and practise presentations in the office. I was planning to walk into Canary Wharf to pick up some lunch later.  I might, however, go into the City instead.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Talisman

Like Ian and countless others, I headed over to King's Cross this afternoon to watch the arrival of the first steam engine built in the UK for fifty years.

By the time I arrived, the crowds on the concourse and platforms were massive so I wandered down York Way to watch it before it entered the station.

I didn't take any photos, as usual, so here is a picture of where I stood:

View this aerial image on Multimap.com
Bird's Eye view on Multimap.com
Get directions on Multimap.com
 
Now, as we have already established, I am not a train-spotter. Nor do I fraternise with them. So I was careful not to appear too eager or to appear to be anything other than an inquisitive passer-by who had happened upon a crowd of people.
I fooled nobody.
A friendly middle-aged woman and her eighty-nine year-old mother asked me when the train was due. And a genuine passerby asked me what everybody was looking at.
Oh well...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

They didn't teach this at *my* school

I remember my GCSE physics teacher telling us a story about the last time he bought a house.  It was the middle of winter and had been snowing heavily.

He was worried about how much it would cost to heat so walked to the bottom of the garden and looked at the roof.

Unlike the houses either side, it had no snow on its roof.  He concluded that the insulation was inadequate and answered his own question.

He was clearly just being naive.  For there is another perfectly reasonable explanation for why the snow may have melted...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow, snow, snow

Everybody else seems to be at it.

So here are some pictures of snow.

 

The view from the flat this morning....

 

 

Some kids made the most of the school closures....

 

I took this photo of Canary Wharf this morning.  Scarily, it's completely invisible now...  the weather isn't getting any better....

Monday, January 19, 2009

They're at it again

Our elected representatives are at it again.  Apparently collecting receipts for everything they buy on expenses is just too much effort.  Strange... everybody else seems to manage it.

Nevertheless, they appear to want to limit scrutiny of how they spend the money that they take from us to fund themselves.

It seems some of the grass-roots organisations are also angry about this.

Here's the email I just sent to my MP:

Dear Mr Fitzpatrick,


You may recall that we corresponded some time ago on the subject of
MPs' attempts to limit scrutiny of their expenses by amending the
Freedom of Information Act.

It would appear that Parliament is returning to this subject on
Thursday in another attempt to relieve MPs of the burdens they impose
on everybody else.

Could you let me know if you are in favour of the proposed changes
and, if not, whether you plan to sign Jo Swinson's Early Day Motion on
the topic please?

The full text of the Early Day Motion is below.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Brown

Freedom of Information (Parliament) Order 2009

That this House notes with concern the provisions in the Freedom of
Information (Parliament) Order 2009 to exempt remove [sic] the
expenses of Members of Parliament and Peers from the scope of the
Freedom of Information Act'; notes that this order will single out MPs
and Peers in a special category as the only paid public officials who
will note [sic] have to disclose full details of their expenses; notes
with concern the regressive effect of this Order on Parliamentary
transparency and the detrimental impact it will have on Parliament in
the eyes of the public; calls on Ministers to block or repeal the
Order in the interest of MPs' and Peers' accountability to members of
the public.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cure for Condensation

The recent cold weather has resulted in an unpleasant build-up of condensation in the flat.

I can cope with slightly steamed up windows but when small pools of water started building up on window-ledges, it was time to do something about it.

Leaving windows open for long periods of time helps with the problem but it's not really a solution when the weather is as cold as now.

The cause is quite simple: too much moisture being produced (breathing, cooking, showering, etc) and too little air exchange with the outside (because it's COLD and the windows are CLOSED!)

I did some research and decided that the solution would be do invest in a dehumidifier.  Sadly, it seems that everybody else has had the same idea and everywhere is out of stock.

I decided that the Delonghi DEM10 would be the best choice as it seems to get good feedback and it is priced keenly.  Unfortunately, it seems to be out of stock everywhere.   I stumbled upon one in the basement of John Lewis on Oxford Street last week and almost wept with joy.  I stood guard over it while I furiously tried to get the attention of an assistant.  When somebody finally came over, I was distraught to learn that it was the only one he had and that he was not prepared to sell it to me!  Apparently it had been on display for six months and had undergone so much abuse that there was no chance it would work.  I even offered to take it off his hands for £20 with a promise not to return it if it proved to be faulty.  No joy: he wanted to keep hold of it as a demonstration model.   

 

He did give me one piece of useful information, however.  Apparently a container full of DEM10s was supposed to arrive in the UK before Christmas but didn't turn up.    I suppose a missing container of a popular model, combined with a cold snap, might be enough to result in a nationwide shortage of pretty much all similarly-priced products.

So I returned to the web and stumbled upon a company that appears to specialise in nothing but Dehumidifers.  Ebac appear to live and breathe dehumidifiers. Indeed, it looks like they make their own and have been doing so for some time.   I suspect the £100 price point was not one they addressed until recently and so I had to hunt quite hard on their website until I found the "Amazon", which appears to be their entry-level model for price conscious people like me.

Now, I have to admit that I was initially somewhat suspicious.  "Ebac" does look quite like "Ebay" so any company that names one of their best-selling products "Amazon" is either stunningly naive or trying just a little too hard to game the search engines.

Anyway, I thought I'd give them a go.

And I have to say that I'm impressed.    The machine isn't pulling gallons of water out of the air but it is slowly but surely filling up the water container.  More importantly, the condensation has almost completely gone.  The bathroom mirror clears far more quickly after a shower and there are no unpleasant pools of water under the windows.   So, I'm somewhat impressed so far.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Woolwich Arsenal Station

Yes, OK. I admit it.  The DLR Woolwich Arsenal extension opened today so I went for a ride.

The train was full of train-spotter types with notepads and cameras.  At least one of them was muttering things under his breath for most of the journey and there was near ecstasy amongst others when the train lost power in the tunnel and started rolling backwards.

It made me wonder at what point one makes the transition from being an "interested observer" to a trainspotter.   My self image is strongly aligned with the former.  But I can't stop worrying that I may have crossed the line and just not noticed...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Free 0870 and 0845 calls on BT

BT plan to make calls to 0870 and 0845 numbers free to most of their customers.

Now, I believe the operators and owners of these numbers receive fees from the caller (or their phone company) when calls to these numbers are made. BT say they'll absorb these costs.

So, what's to stop me signing up for hundreds of these numbers and then getting millions of people to call me?  More likely, what's to stop a bad guy setting up hundreds of these numbers and then infecting those milions of computers in the country that still have modems and are connected to the phone line? 

I assume BT have this covered. But I'd love to know how.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The wrong kind of terrorist

Ian discovered last night that the Met Police were buying ads encouraging the public to report suspected terrorism. 

Unfortunately, he discovered this when he noticed that the ads were being placed on his own site. The working assumption is that the police may, scandalously, be buying keywords as broad as "right wing".

I guess a Freedom of Information request might answer that particular question.

However, a more worrying observation was made by a commentator on Iain Dale's site: they seem to have a very specific idea about the kinds of terrorists they're looking for.

I typed the following four searches into Google. Try to guess which ones triggered the ad...

Right wing extremist

Left wing extremist

Muslim extremist

Animal extremist

Here are the results:

Right Wing Extremist

Ad appears in line with the search results and is highly visible:

Left Wing Extremist

No ad:

Muslim Extremist

Ad appears - but is way over to the right. I almost missed it

 

Animal Extremist

No ad

 

So I guess the implication is clear:

If you're worried about right-wing or religious extremists next door, the Met wants to hear from you.

If you live next door to a mad animal-rights lunatic, don't worry about it.

As for the last case, I guess it's rational for the Met not to waste money advertising on Google.  I mean, if he lives next door to a crazed loon intent on wrecking the economy, Darling only has to step outside and tell the bobby guarding the entrance to No. 10 about it...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

"Rat to Ox"

Leaving aside the question of whether throwing away a trusted brand name is a good idea, can anybody explain Aviva's latest poster ad to me, please?

The ad reads something like this:

 

"The Quarrymen to The Beatles

Rat to Ox

Norwich Union to Aviva"

I get the first line and I understand the third line but the middle line just confuses me.

Is this a reference to something to do with horoscopes? Chinese mythology, perhaps? Something else entirely?  I genuinely don't get it.

Anyone know?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Windows Password Strangeness

I just changed my Windows password and discovered something really, really odd.

I can lock the screen and then unlock it using the new password without problem.

I can also reboot the computer and log on successfully.

But... if I put the computer into standby and then wake it up again, I can't log in.

I began to question my sanity...  did I change the password to what I thought I had?  Perhaps I didn't change it at all?!

Having to do a hard reboot to get back into my computer whenever it goes into Standby is not a particularly useful characteristic of a portable computer.

What was going on?!

And then a possibility dawned on me...   I had included a punctuation mark in my new password (the double-speech-mark symbol, "). 

Hmmm.... what if something really weird was going on with keyboard mapping?

In the UK, the " symbol is accessed by pressing Shift-2 on the keyboard.  But on US keyboards, you have to press Shift and one of the buttons near the Enter key (the key marked @ on UK keyboards).

So I gave it a try... and guess what...?  It worked!

So, I have to use Shift-2 when logging on from cold and after locking the screen but need to use Shift-@ if I've returned from standby.

How mind-bogglingly odd.

(And yes... I have changed my password to something new now)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"The Politics Slot"

My blood pressure had the misfortune of catching Channel 4's "The Politics Slot" this evening. A Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Labour, Toby Perkins, attempted to show how good the government had been for his local area, Chesterfield.

I could only bring my anger levels back under control by writing him a stern email:

Dear Toby,

I happened to catch your broadcast on Channel 4 just now. I wanted
you to know how profoundly depressing I found it. In the space of
barely two minutes you managed to highlight so much that is wrong with
our current government.

Examples:

* Somehow you think it is admirable to state that unemployment is
never a price worth paying. You would have more credibility if you
accepted that there are tradeoffs in public policy. If the
alternatives are worse, as they tragically sometimes can be, then even
something as unpalatable as increasing unemployment can be the lesser
of two evils. You patronise your audience by pretending otherwise.

* Your claim that the Labour government paid for the community project
you showed was deeply unpleasant. The Labour government did not pay
for it; the current and future taxpayers of this country paid for it.
If you're going to claim credit for this project, at least be honest:
the government's primary act was to take money away from individuals
who would have been free to spend it as they chose so that you could
spend it as you chose. There is nothing particularly admirable about
this.

I respect those who seek to make a positive impact on their
communities and I wish you good luck in your efforts to make a
difference to Chesterfield. But I'm sure you'll understand that, on
the basis of your broadcast, I can't yet wish you success in your
Parliamentary ambitions.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Brown.

London, E1W.

I feel better now. But I can't help thinking I should have written it in green ink.


[UPDATE 2008-12-04 Toby was good enough to respond to this email, and with some humour. See the comments section]

Monday, December 01, 2008

Something for Phil, Tel and Stu to think about

In the UK, it is illegal for large shops to trade for more than six hours on Sundays.

Clearly, those who don't want to shop or work on Sundays should be free not to.  But, equally, it is wrong to prevent those who want to from doing so.

It occurred to me over lunch yesterday that now is the perfect time for the large retailers to force a change to the law.

Imagine the situation:

If Phil, Tel and Stu were to open their stores for a full day on Sunday, what would happen?

Would we really have the spectacle of the state prosecuting companies who were doing what they could to increase employment, offer additional opportunities for their staff to earn money in these DifficultTimes* and provide additional opportunities for consumers to help keep the economy Moving Forward**?

The only face-saving way out of it for the government would be to accept the economic argument and repeal the ban.

So, go on, guys.... do it!

 

 

 

* Trademark of HM Government.

** What does it mean for an economy to "move", never mind move forward?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Credit where it's due...

I am proud to announce that my council, Tower Hamlets has come out bottom of a recycling league table.

Good for them.  I hope they don't succumb to pressure and increase their spending in this area.

I've never understood why we should spend effort processing waste into products that have a lower value than the resources consumed performing the recycling.  

For all their faults, I'm glad that Tower Hamlets appear to share my reasoning.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Psychopaths take over the tube

And no, I'm not talking about the RMT.

What on earth have the morons at London Underground done with Bank/Monument?

Until this morning, my trip to and from work was completely unaffected by the escalator works at Bank.

On the way there, I would take the DLR to Bank and then take two escalators up to the Waterloo and City Line.   On the way back, I would avoid the W&C as there was no easy way back down to the DLR.  Instead, I would take the District line from Blackfriars to Monument, take the escalators down to the Northern Line and then follow the handily placed stairs straight down to the DLR. Completely painless.

Imagine my outrage when I alighted at Monument this evening.  I was prevented - by Tube staff, backed up by a menacing police presence in the background - from taking the short stroll from the District platforms to the Northern Line.

Instead, I was forced to leave Monument, walk to Bank and then re-enter the system. I thought the queues to enter Bank were bad until I reached the Northern Line platform, where I had to queue to get on to the platform.

Of course, I was at the wrong end now so had to walk two-thirds of the full length to reach the DLR stairs.

What an utter farce.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Arbitrage Opportunities

So, interest rates may soon drop to 0%.

This creates an interesting opportunity.

Let's imagine two people:

Person A: Has a mortgage at a fixed rate of interest (say 6%)

Person B: Has some money to save.

If the savings rates on offer are low - say 2% - it would benefit person B to lend the money to person A instead.

Person A could offset this money against their mortgage and avoid paying the 6% interest charge on that money.  They could, therefore, afford to pay person B a competitive rate of interest - perhaps 4% - and still come out ahead.   One might imagine that there could be lots of people like Person "A" out there (mentioning no names...). I'm sure they'd be interested in such a scheme.

There are three problems, all of them solvable:

1) Person B is likely to be liable for tax on this income so interest rates may have to fall quite far for it to be an attractive deal

2) Person B will worry about the possibility of default by Person A

3) Persons A and B have to find each other.

Problems 2) and 3) could be solved by the introduction of some sort of intermediary. Let's call it a bank.

The bank will wrap up the default risk with their fee for providing the matching service and other administration and capture it as a spread between the rate they'd pay to person B and the rate they'd expect from person A.

So this idea would actually only work if rates fell so far that unsecured bank *lending* rates fell below 6%.

Does anybody see that happening any time soon?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Please return item to the bagging area, revisited

Dan broke the bad news last week that these satanic machines have spread around the world.

If you recall, my voyage into hell began when I tried to use a supermarket self-checkout machine and couldn't get the thing to stop shouting at me.

After my most recent battle, I decided to do something very unusual: make eye contact with and speak to another person in a busy shop in London.

No. I hadn't gone out of my mind... this person worked there.  But still.

I asked why the machine was so demonstrably rubbish and he made a useful observation: the machine takes some time to register that an item has been placed in the bagging area. 

This means that if you want to remove a bag, you have to wait for the item to be registered and then remove the bag.

I tried his idea and, sure enough, if I waited a second or so, the item would be registered. Then, if I lifted off the bag, it would still shout at me but one of the options was to tell it that I had lifted off the bag.

Phew!

I think I also understand why the machines work in this way.  The question is... is there a better way?

Consider the design meeting.

Requirement: "All our customers are thieves so we need to be able to detect if somebody places an item in the bagging area if they haven't scanned."

Now... an "obvious" solution to this is to put in a sensor that reacts when an item is placed in the bagging area.  If an item is registered without a preceding scan operation then something dodgy is going on.

So far, so good.

But there's a problem: different customers will scan in different ways.

Sure... some of them will "scan, bag, scan, bag, ..." and this detection mechanism will work.

But some of them will pick up three items, scan all three and then put two of them in the bagging area and hold on to the other one because they know it's fragile and they want to put it in last... and then they'll scan two items and put both in together at the same time.... (you get the idea).

This means that it would be impossible to tell whether somebody had placed an unscanned item into one of these batches and the requirement could not be met.

Now, the solution they chose to employ was simple and cheap. They simply enforced the "scan, bag, scan, bag, ..." approach in the most clunky way possible.

However, it's interesting to think about what else they could have done.

One user-friendly idea could have been to add a set of scales to the side of the machine where the unscanned items are kept prior to scanning.

If the total weight of the "to be scanned" items equals the total weight of the "scanned" items at the end of the process then they would know there had been no skulduggery.  (I can immediately think of a few problems with this approach, however...)

Either way, I still hate those machines.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My faith in the Economist is restored!

I wrote last week that the Economist had cancelled my subscription without warning.

Well, they're back in my good books now. Their PR people saw my posting and somebody from The Economist has just been in touch to sort it out.

An economic illiteracy crisis in East London has just been averted!


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Economist May have lost a subscriber

I switched bank a few months ago. The new bank (First Direct) contacted all the companies that I have a Direct Debit with and told them to move the mandate from my old bank to the new one.

They all did it.

Apart from one:

The Economist.

They seem to have cancelled the old Direct Debit but not bothered to set up the new one.

Worse, rather than contacting me immediately when the last payment failed to go through, they cancelled my subscription and sent me a letter instead.

Which means this week's copy hasn't been delivered.

:-(

Friday, August 29, 2008

Balance on Channel 4 News

So, McCain announces his running mate.

Channel 4 News leads with the Democrats' line on the announcement ("inexperienced candidate a heartbeat from power...") and Obama's attack on McCain in his speech last night.

They later introduced the Governor of Alaska as a former beauty queen.

We know how much Channel 4 News (and the BBC, of course) want Obama to win but can't they at least pretend to be balanced?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Is the economy even *worse* than it looks?

Passing through Bank yesterday evening, I would guess that over 80% of the advert slots in the corridors between the DLR and Central platforms contained TfL adverts, rather than paid-for ones.

Surely the advertising market can't have gone so bad, so quickly?  I've only been out of the country for a week!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Faster Payments

Wow...

I'm in the process of moving my money resting in various accounts to First Direct in preparation for switching to an offset mortgage.

I transferred a chunk of money just now from Barclays. I then switched to my First Direct account and the money was already in it.

It took less than a second.

Seriously impressive.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I think they're trying to tell me something

First they closed off the Wapping-> East London Line -> Jubilee -> Waterloo route to work.

Then they forced me to use Bank rather than Tower Hill/Gateway to get from the DLR to the District Line.

And now they're closing Blackfriars too!

So, as of March next year, my only viable route to the office will be Limehouse -> DLR -> Bank -> W&C -> Waterloo.

Wonderful.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

"Please return item to the bagging area"

Arghhh!  Who designed the self-check-out machines that have proliferated of late?

Regardless of the store, the self-checkout machines have exactly the same design so somebody, somewhere, is making a lot of money selling them.

I can only assume the manufacturer has a rock-solid patent that is keeping rivals from competing and protects their sordid little monopoly. How else could they get away with failing to fix gaping defects in the user interface that have persisted since they first appeared several years ago?

"Item removed from bagging area"

... yes. I know. The bag was full.

"Please return item to the bagging area"

... WHY?!!!  WHY SHOULD I?????

"Unexpected item in the bagging area"

... YOU JUST TOLD ME TO!!!!!   I want to cry now :-(

Useless, useless, stupid, stupid machines.

 

I see I'm not the only one who hates them...  (the date on that post also shows that the user interface stupidity has persisted for at least a year.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Nightbuses...

I was in Norwich today visiting a customer and thought I'd take a different route home from Liverpool Street this evening.

I walked down some back streets and picked up a 15 bus from Aldgate.

When I alighted on Commercial Road, I noticed that the bus stop was reporting a bus route I hadn't heard of before, the N550.

For those who don't live in London, the "N" is important: it implies a night bus and is therefore a useful backup if you stay out too late to get the tube and can't (or won't, in my case) get a cab.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I walked down Butcher Row and noticed a bus stop advertising a second night bus, the N551!

Two new routes in one day?  What gives?

There was nothing obvious on TfL's website but I did find something in Google. It appears that the N50 (an unreliable but useful) service is being split into the two routes above and that, wonder of wonders, one of them (the N551) will travel down the Highway, meaning it will stop outside the flat. Hurrah!

Click here and search forward for "New night route"

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Monday, July 07, 2008

Kitchen

I was speaking to a colleague in Germany last week and he pointed out that I had blogged about the nightmare of getting a new kitchen put in... and showed lots of the "before" pictures.

But I never showed the "after" pictures.

So here they are!  (only a year late)... and before decoration.

 

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Foreign Exchange Market

I did quite a bit of work last year on a solution for a client who had an ever-increasing number of foreign-exchange orders that were threatening to swamp an infrastructure that was built for a world where the volumes were smaller and each order was larger.

The basic idea (there was more to it than this...) was to utilise CEP (Complex Event Processing) techniques to monitor the order flow and look for opportunities to aggregate similar, small orders into smaller numbers of large ones.

When I was producing the explanatory materials and sales decks, I included a worked example of how the foreign exchange market works. I had to piece it together and validate it by speaking to colleagues who specialise in this area and by getting a couple of clients to give me their comments.

Interestingly, I stumbled upon a rather detailed US government web site today. It describes the market in great detail. Knowing about this material last year would have saved me a lot of time...

US Government Primer on the FX market

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Words with two opposites

I'm sure this is the sort of thing that most people do when they first learn to speak, rather than decades later. But I realised yesterday that I couldn't think of any words that had more than one opposite meaning.

That is: "good" has one opposite. Namely, "bad".

Likewise, the one opposite of "on" is "off".

Therefore, I was delighted this evening to realise that "lost" has two opposites: "won" and "found".

Hurrah.

Now I think about it, I'm sure there are thousands of others. Presumably all one has to do is analyse every heteronym in the language.

Still... I enjoyed my victory.

 

(Now I think about it, it's not obvious that "on" only has one opposite. Presumably "under" is also valid. I suppose I should be pleased to have found another. But I'm actually a little irritated that it's so easy to find them)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Airline Cashflow Crisis

I've been waiting almost ten weeks for a refund from an airline, which had originally promised to do it in six weeks (which I thought was bad enough).

So what do we think the reason is? Cashflow crisis, incompetence or cynicism bordering on banditry?

I hesitate to name them as I'm sure there are probably laws against accusing companies of being insolvent but one really does wonder how difficult it is to process a refund.

Passport Control

I flew back to London City Airport from Dublin yesterday.

I didn't have to go through passport control.

Is that normal?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Narrow Platforms

The platforms at Limehouse DLR Station were narrowed rather severely a few weeks ago by having scaffolding and wooden planks positioned along the length. I would say that the depth has been reduced by at least 50cm - possibly more.

The work appears to be temporary and, as both platforms have been similarly mutilated, I'm guessing it's something to do with the three-car project rather than the bridge to the c2c station but the narrowing is noticeable and borders on dangerous at peak periods.

Surely this isn't just being done to create storage space?  Anybody know?