Chris Gerhard complains that I don’t like “real” Bikes.

My beloved colleague Chris Gerhard, excusing his inability to spell my name correctly, writes:


Alec Muffet has just told us what he likes about his bike. Now I have two comments about this.

First what I really like about my bike (any one of them) is that that they are silent. All except the triplet, which is silent but the kids on the back are not.

The other thing I find odd is that every time Alec mentions his bike I get all hopeful that he is talking about a proper bike, and each time I am disappointed.

When I read that Alec hand delivered some of his Christmas cards on a short bike ride, I started to think that perhaps he was copying my annual trip to deliver my local cards. I used to do it over a single trip, 40 miles of stop start and sometimes even a few drinks on the way round if I was caught delivering. Now it has been broken into two shorter runs; but being lazy I have two helpers on the back, one to sort the cards, and one to jump off an deliver.

I could get amusingly shirty here and point out that:

  1. Although my bike is noisy, his bikes can’t do 135mph on the M4, or indeed go on the motorway at all, and…
  2. The length of my christmas-card round exceeded his by a factor of 10, and…
  3. I thought that The Goodies had established that his “Triplet” is actually called a “Trandem“?[1]

…but good-natured bitchery aside, He and the other gonzo cycle-fascists on the top floor of building 3 Chris and his chums can rest assured that I also appreciate (ahem) “pedal-cycles“, although lacking his consummate and perfect insanity hardiness, I can’t bring myself to commute into work every day, come sun, rain or pissing hailstorm, or indeed at all, by bike.

Partly this is because I used to commute 18 miles per day by mountainbike (Witney to Burford, return) at a job before joining Sun, and really hated cycling the A40 in rush-hour traffic. I realise that to you, Chris, this is a trivial distance but as we’ve previously established, you’re bonkers, mate. wanting to cover that distance every day is a matter of personal taste.

Partly this is also because a mountainbike is still not a very pleasant way to cover the 12 mile daily commute I would have to do in traffic, although I do regularly pore over Ordnance Survey maps to try and discover a legally cyclable route through the enormous, heavily rutted and possibly mined British Army Tank-Driver Training Course which lies directly between my home and my office.

Further this may be to do with my not having got a life with anything that this entails, so the notion of my getting up before 0700 in order to facilitate spending 30 minutes to cycle into work, subsequently leaving work at the same time as the non-geeks at a normal time in order to spend another 30 minutes to get home, does not really fit into how my work day usually pans-out.

Finally, there is the question of the bike itself; with the arrival of Chris’s group in my office building, he and his peers demanded and got the installation of some very swish bike-lockers to protect their collective two-wheeled prides-and-joys.

(Aside: I suspect that one of the conspirators’ suggestion to park an old Ford Transit minivan in the company carpark, cancel its roadtax, insurance, and rip the wheels off it in order to store their bikes in that, might have influenced the decision in their favour. I consider this to have been a political masterstroke.)

However, were I to get a new pedal-bike to commute-in on this summer, it would probably be one of these.

I therefore have no idea where I would be able to park it.

[1] Unless height of the riders is the differentiator, not that Bill Oddie is particularly tall.

Welsh language used ‘covertly’ by British Army

When I was young – perhaps 9 or 10, in the mid 1970s, on family vacation in Canada – I distinctly remember my Dad telling me a story, I believe he said from WW1, where a message had to be passed rapidly from the front, back to London, over phone lines that were certainly tapped by the enemy.

The OIC at the front thought for a moment, and demanded that some particular MP be fetched from the House of Commons to convey the message; on being told that he would be breaking security restrictions the officer replied: Don’t worry about that, we’ll be talking Welsh.

The story stuck in my mind, but alas now that nearly 30 years have passed, my 86yo Dad no longer can place it; further since the growth of my interest in security, cryptography, and history, I have learned about the Navajo Code Talkers in WW2, I have a deeper interest in tracing whether the story is true.

Now: I am sure that I have written about this elsewhere.

I am positive that I have.

However: I suspect that my writing predates this ‘blog since I cannot find a citation of my previous posting anywhere in the pertinent subdirectory, and Google is turning up nothing. It might have been in a Slashdot posting or something like that.

Someone else’s blog-comments, perhaps?

My inability to find what prompted this, aside: today, just now, this dropped into my inbox:

From: <…@…>
Subject: Welsh language used ‘covertly’ by British army

Dear Alec

It has long been a rumour that members of 100 Field Squadron used Welsh whilst communicating with their fellow colleagues over the radio within their unit, during world war two to foil the Germans.

The Squadron, based at Cwmbran in south Wales had amongst it’s members many rich characters from the pits of the Welsh mining community. The unit, served with distinction fighting as a ‘rear guard’ at Dunkirk and have recently returned from the Gulf where they were mobilsed for the Iraq crisis.

100 Field Squadron are one of four units which form the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (M). and has a History of being the second oldest regiment in the British army.


Six Apart to buy Live Journal?

Well, this raises some interesting possibilities:


Six Apart to buy Live Journal

EXCLUSIVE: Folks have been predicting a big year for mergers and acquisitions in 2005, and we are starting the year with a bang. I have learnt exclusively that Six Apart, the parent company behind hosted blogging service TypePad, and Moveable Type is about to acquire Live Journal, for an undisclosed amount. The deal is a mix of stock and cash, and could be announced sometime later this month, according to those close to the two companies. If the deal goes through, then Six Apart will become one of the largest weblog companies in the world, with nearly 6.5 million users. It also gives the company a very fighting chance against Google’s Blogger and Microsoft’s MSN Spaces.

(link c/o Dave)

Googling unsecured webcams

The phenomenon of “ye-gods-you-mean-you’re-actually-allowed-to-do-that?” strikes once more, when – following the leads of “Company-Confidential“, “Proprietary-Information“, “Internal-Use-Only“, “Top-Secret“, and “UK-Eyes-Only” – someone twigs that you can use Google to search for open-access webcams

Note the way I phrase that – “open access” does not necessarily equare with “unsecured”, although that may be the case. As ever, security is primarily a matter of policy.

Reality drama at the Creation Museum

Tipped off by today’s CIDOMLB cartoon I went and checked-out


We’re not talking about so-called reality TV,’ which places real people in unrealistic situations and throws in a bizarre twist at the end. At the Creation Museum special effects theater, you’ll see true stories from the Bible, not embellished with unrealistic subplots. And the unusual twist (compared to many other biblically based’ movies) is accuracy-both biblical and scientific!



The special effects theater will take you on a riveting journey back in time. The five screens will come alive with the convincing power of true stories such as Noah’s Ark and the Flood, the fate of the dinosaurs, the unfinished building of the Tower of Babel, and the death and resurrection of Christ.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Many exotic animals will fill the garden and the rooms of the Ark, and we can’t create them in two days like God. To make it even more challenging, we have never even seen animals quite like them before. Sure, we’ve seen modern cats and elephants, but they are the descendants of the original cat and elephant kinds, which no longer exist (see Representing the “world that then was” ‘).

Here’s another challenge: wow’ a general audience with an exhibit on radiocarbon dating. Many people want a young-earth explanation of the dating methods that supposedly prove millions of years, but not many people would read a 1,000 word sign in a museum. So we have to make the exhibit fun, short and easy, even for young people to grasp.

What about the Ice Age, so-called ape men and the geologic column? We have ideas, but we’re always looking for more effective, dramatic ways to present the much-needed answers to the questions of the day.

We pray that one day thousands will walk out of the museum and not just say wow, that’s a great museum,’ but wow, the Bible really can be trusted, and now I’m better equipped to defend it.’

Mmmm… I wonder if representing God’s creation that never existed should be classified as some form of heresy; after all, they must be gone for a reason…

Now what was that line from Good Omens? “Earth… scythed clean of all its higher life forms. Nothing left but dust, and fundamentalists…”