Word of the day: rickroll

rickroll (v. tr.) [rik-rohl]: to post a link to a video that itself looks appealing, but which actually links to something dull like Rick Astley’s hit single Never Gonna Give You Up.

Multi-tasking

My daughter mastered the art of multi-tasking this morning, combining the activities of having a bath and having a shit.

Not pleasant; but very impressive.

Safe-tergent

I saw a TV advert this evening for Woolite, a liquid for washing machines that prevents ruination of your clothes in the wash. But wait: it’s not your average washing liquid. It’s not a detergent; it’s a safe-tergent.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a safe-tergent. You most definitely heard it here first. What a dreadful strapline; which dreadful copywriter came up with it; and which member of the client organisation accepted it?

Good luck, Karen

Good luck, Karen. Thoughts are with you for today.

GMail for all

Some time ago, I started using GMail as my mail client. The only way I could do this without changing my email address (me@domain.com) was to auto-forward all email to me@domain.com to me.domain@gmail.com. I could then configure GMail to respond from my me@domain.com account, but it did this by putting "From me@domain.com on behalf of me.domain@gmail.com" at the top of each email. Rubbish.

Recently, Google Apps enhanced its functionality to allow you to direct your MX records directly at its servers, and for it to control your domain’s email address. So now, me@domain.com can be accessed directly through GMail. And I can even change the GMail logo to my own domain logo. No reference to GMail apart from a google url and a "Powered by Google" footer, accompanied by a diddy logo. Fabulous!

Now I need to figure out how to migrate all my me.domain@gmail.com mail to me@domain.com. It’s no mean feat, by all accounts.

Virgina monologues

I don’t think Virginia Hayward will be particularly happy with the typo in her name in Ocado’s recent marketing email, nor on their associated product page.

Luxury indeed.

How to guarantee a draw in football

In circumstances where a football team only needs to secure a draw, I’ve often thought about a scenario in which, immediately after the kick-off, the eleven players rush back to their own goal and arrange themselves on the plane of the goalmouth ready to defend the pounding that the opposing team will administer to them for the next 45 minutes. After a brief respite for oranges and to ice the bruising caused by the ball’s (and indeed balls’) battering, they’d be back out for 45 further minutes of the same.

I nervously aired this idea in the office the other day, given the impending such fixture that England faces against Croatia tomorrow. It turns out that a colleague had often shared these very thoughts. He probably hasn’t analysed it to the extend detailed below.

The goalmouth is 7.32m wide and 2.44m high. There would be seven players lined up on the goal line, each responsible for defending a goal width of 1.05 metres. With 42 inch waists, and assuming they’re rotund enough for their depth (fatness) to be equal to their width, then they would be 0.34cm wide, so they’d have to shuffle left and right to defend the ball from going through the gaps in between them. This wouldn’t be as difficult as it might sound, as with the ball being 70cm 22cm wide, the defenders (as this is what they would all be deemed) would only have to shuffle 18cm 41cm either way to close the gap sufficiently to prevent the ball from going through.

Ah, I hear you say, why doesn’t the opposition score by lifting the ball over the seven defenders’ heads? This is where the other four players come in. These four players would lie atop the heads of their seven colleagues, two on the left atop one another and two on the right, again atop one another.

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Like so.

Assuming their seven floor-standing colleagues were 1.85 metres tall (6’1"), then the four airborne players would only need to be 29cm wide, or 36" round to cover the area up to the cross-bar. All of Peter Crouch’s height, there would be a 3.3 metre gap between the heads of the left and right airborne players, which would be defended in each of three ways:

The alternative would be to place the goalkeeper in the middle of the seven, using his height and hands to defend that middle area.

So tomorrow, England will be playing in the 11 formation (as opposed to their regular 4-4-2) to secure the draw they need to qualify for Euro 2008. I’d be surprised if McLaren risked any other strategy.

Cut it out, Fry!

My bus journey to work affords me the time to catch up on my subscription feeds using Google Reader from my mobile phone. The interface is specially tailored for the mobile screen, and being above ground means that I can download a whole bunch of stuff as I go, and read it along the way.

The first post I happened upon this morning was from Stephen Fry’s wonderful blog. It was also the article I was reading when I arrived at work. The last third remained unread.

It was certainly an enjoyable read. But it was incredibly long. 5,611 words in total, spanning eleven pages of the Word document I’ve just pasted it into, the purpose of this exercise being to count the words. I was quite impressed with the length of my, er, post last night, but its 614 words pale into insignificance when put alongside Fry’s interminable rants. (They were primarily rants in this instance; and I use the word interminable to mean seemingly without end, without casting negative judgment on the associated content. I smiled and laughed out loud on numerous occasions, much to the bemusement, and possibly fear, of my fellow passengers.)

So Fry: that I can get through the rest of my subscriptions on the 40 minute journey to work, please try and curb your enthusiasm and keep the posts a little shorter, there’s a good chap.

And the rest of you: subscribe to Fry’s blog. It’s a joy to behold.

Kindle, yes. Chocadoobies, certainly not

Today, Amazon launched their new product: Kindle. And what a bag of bollocks it appears to be.

First, a summary. Kindle is a portable device that allows you to download the text of books and read them on the go. It is capable of storing over 200 books, weighs in at 292 grams—compared to an iPhone’s 135 grams—and measures 19cm by 13.5cm, very similar dimensions to your standard paperback fiction book. And it’s a mere 1.8cm thick. The cost: $399 (£195 and falling, not that it’ll be available in the UK).

So, it’s small in size, relatively big in storage, and light. It’s not cheap, but not crazily expensive.

Now to its drawbacks.

The first obvious one is that it’s about as proprietary as you can get.

The screen is not backlit which allows the battery to last for 30 hours; but not having the option for backlighting is a big weakness. Its screen has a good resolution enabling beautiful font display, but don’t expect a reaction when you touch it. A touch-screen it ain’t, despite this becoming an expectation of portable devices during the three years since Kindle was on the drawing board.

This is primarily a reading device, so why it has a fully-functioning QWERTY keyboard I have no idea. (Further, why the keys are angled to suit the few true touch-typists among us beggars belief.) It would have been much more appealing to save the space (or make the screen bigger), and incorporate a touch-screen keyboard into its, er, touch-screen. And even the keyboard itself is bespoke. Its only symbols seem to be forward slash, @ and the full-stop/period.

And get this: it’s black and white. Actually, it’s capable of four shades of grey, 15,999,996 fewer colours than the iPhone.

All in all, it’s weak. Maybe it’s competing in an entirely different market to that in which other portable devices sit—aiming at the book reader rather than the technophile—but nonetheless, these people are likely to be familiar with mobile devices and functionally-rich keyboards. It’s the equivalent of Nintento unveiling the Atari 2600 in 2006 instead of the Wii.

Amazon itself admits it’s a technology company, not a retailer. It’s had a go here, but it’s missed the mark by a mile. Maybe I’m also way off the mark with this, but my first impressions are not good. You may have gathered.

(BTW, if you’re still reading, the title of this post was inspired by a 1980s TV advert for Kinder Eggs. I know nothing of the advert itself other than the line Kinder; Chocadoobies. I googled chocadoobies to do some research, and am pleased to announce that no reference has yet been made to them, whatever they may be. So here’s the first, along with second and third. Does anyone else remember the ad.?)

Ambiguous headlines: a new category?

The BBC has some strict editorial guidelines dictating the length of its article titles and surfaced news headlines. All too often, they results in ambiguity in the headlines’ meanings.

Today’s article about whether the Chancellor should extend Northern Rock’s £24bn credit line (Darling pressured over Rock’s fate) prompted thoughts (in my head at least) of Chris Rock’s lover being questioned over his recent disappearance.

I’ve wondered for a little while whether I should introduce a new category to my tangential ramblings (ambiguous headlines, for want of a better title) in which I write the article that I’d imagined reading before reading the BBC’s version of events, under the identical title.

Would that appeal? Would it generate mirth? Would it be libellous?

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