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.


* 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

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?