Robert Hampton

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October 2009

5th October 2009

Weighing in on an important issue
Posted by at 1.05pm | It's My Life | 1 response

Last Wednesday one of my fellow office monkeys left for pastures new, and to commemorate the fact we decamped en masse to the Buffet Star for lunch. This is Liverpool’s biggest and (probably) best all-you-can-eat Chinese/Thai experience.

For someone like me — who, until this diet started, regarded the phrase “all you can eat” as less of a slogan than a challenge — this was a temptation too far, and I ended up gobbling up a sizeable bowl of chicken and sweetcorn soup, followed by two plates laden with the finest foodstuffs the Orient had to offer.

It was with some trepidation that I weighed myself this morning. The result? I weigh 84kg. That’s only half a kilogram down from last week, but considering the amount of spring rolls I consumed, I’m actually happy with that. It’s good to know that I can (over)indulge from time to time without throwing everything out the window.

7th October 2009

The Tories
Posted by at 1.24pm | Politics | No responses

They’re crazy! Hurray! The latest comes from their education spokesman:

“We’ll develop a Troops to Teachers programme to get professionals in the army who know how to train young men and women into the classroom, where they can provide not just discipline but inspiration and leadership,” he said.

Are we going to start torturing schoolkids then?

8th October 2009

Hi Pod!

I can’t fault the Apple online store for their service. Ordered at 9.20am Tuesday, delivered at lunchtime Wednesday.

Yes, I have joined the white earphones club. Now I can listen to music and informative podcasts on the train or in the gym, or anywhere I want.

iPod nano

I’m not actually going to do that, of course. My nice shiny new iPod might get stolen or damaged, and that would never do.

In fact I think I’ll just keep it in its box. Can’t be too careful.

12th October 2009

The Weighting Game Sucks… Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!
Posted by at 9.53am | It's My Life | 2 responses

83kg. Not much of a drop from last week (I blame Mum’s delicious home-made scones) but nothing to be ashamed of.

Um, that’s it.

13th October 2009

Fred, Jim and Sheila

Last week BBC Four showed Micro Men, billed as a “drama-documentary” (i.e. facts with made up bits in between to make it more interesting) about the rivalry between Sinclair and Acorn for dominance of the UK’s nascent home computer market in the early 1980s.

I came to the world of computers long after this battle had been fought (Acorn had the education market sewn up, but Sinclair’s cheaper ZX Spectrum won the majority of the home users) but for a long-standing Acorn fan such as myself it was fascinating to see the events recreated, including a marvellous scene where the Acorn techies frantically work to get the prototype BBC Micro working while boss Chris Curry is stalling the BBC executives in the corridor outside.

One aspect the programme does capture perfectly is the genuine feeling of excitement that existed as affordable home computers entered people’s homes for the first time. Whether it was the Spectrum with its rubber keys and colour clash, or the BBC Micro’s occasionally-flammable power supplies and blocky Mode 2 graphics, computing has never seemed quite so exciting since.

Micro Men is available on iPlayer. Go get it!

15th October 2009

Haven’t done one of these for a while… and you’ll soon see why
Posted by at 10.50pm | Sun and Cloud | No responses

Sun and Cloud Image 1
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16th October 2009

It Was Acceptable in the Eighties
Posted by at 11.59am | Music | 1 response

A-ha are splitting up. This is probably very sad news, but it does provide the perfect excuse to embed a YouTube video. Don’t get too excited, you’ve probably already seen it:-

There should be a tribute band called Mm-Hm.

17th October 2009

Jan Ravings
Posted by at 10.29am | In the News | No responses

My parents take the Daily Mail as their main newspaper, and I’m too cheap to buy an alternative, so I usually get to at least glance at the paper every day (sample headline from last week: “Why do so many marriages end in murder trials?”)

Even a casual glance would tell that the paper is generally anti-gay. Usually, it’s just silly, as with their star columnist Richard Littlejohn, whose interest in homosexuality borders on the obsessive. Occasionally it becomes more nasty: in 1993, they carried a report on research into genetic causes for homosexuality, with the headline, “Abortion hope after ‘gay genes’ findings”.

Now of course it’s all about Jan Moir, whose column about Stephen Gately has attracted a certain amount of attention. I don’t want to link to the Mail and give them any more advertising pennies, so I’ll link to Charlie Brooker’s excoriation of Moir’s column instead.

She has ignored the postmortem and all known facts about the case. She is exploiting Gately’s death to make dubious insinuations about gay people. To do that, especially when that person’s funeral hasn’t even taken place, is just plain wicked.

What is reassuring is the outpouring of anger, fuelled by Brooker’s column and Tweets from Stephen Fry and others, which has forced the Mail onto the back foot.

So far Moir has issued a non-apology for her comments (blaming an “orchestrated campaign” by “the gay community”), but hopefully the pressure will be kept up. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve reached the point as a society where this sort of thing is no longer acceptable.

The Press Complaints Commission has received over 1000 complaints, although complaining to that body is largely pointless since they can only deal with complaints from people directly involved.

19th October 2009

Weighting for Godot
Posted by at 1.10pm | It's My Life | 1 response

Hold on to your hats, people — it’s that time of week again, when Robert stands on the scales and hopes they don’t say “one at a time, please”.

I weighed myself this morning and the result was: 81.5 kg. Another small drop from last week.

I’m really pleased with how it’s going. I’ve achieved a level of self-discipline that frankly I didn’t think possible, and the results are showing.

If I keep this up, I will easily reach my target weight by the beginning of December. Then at Christmas I will probably put it all back on again. Oh well.

22nd October 2009

Please Mr Postman look and see, if there’s a letter, a letter for me
Posted by at 8.14pm | In the News | No responses

I like ordering things through the Internet; it’s far better than the alternative method of purchasing things, i.e. going into a shop. Several times a week my postman arrives laden with parcels, freeing me of the burden of having to leave the house and talk to people. Therefore, when the CWU announced strike action, I was somewhat perturbed, not least because I had just ordered several items online, all of which had been posted just in time to get caught up in the possible industrial action and sit in Copperas Hill for an extended period.

So I was really pleased to arrive home and find this waiting for me tonight:-


Yep, every single item I was waiting for has been delivered. Thank you Mr Postman — as far as I’m concerned, you can now strike to your heart’s content (until 12th November, when I’m expecting a DVD preorder to be posted)!

A lot of people complain about our postal service. Me, I’m actually quite satisfied with the Royal Mail. In my experience, items generally arrive intact, within the timeframe they’re supposed to, which is all I want really. Occasionally in work we get letters addressed to the Clayton Square branch of Boots, but apart from that there are few problems. I don’t know about all the behind the scenes stuff, but something is clearly seriously wrong with industrial relations and perhaps some heads need to be knocked together.

The Guardian had the nice idea of posting three satellite tracking devices and following their progress in real time. Unfortunately they didn’t read their own news stories and hence nearly missed the strike, with two out of three items arriving on time and only the third getting stuck.

I also made the mistake of browsing the BBC’s Have Your Say page on the subject earlier today, but quickly clicked away after seeing the inane comments posted. You got letters today because the delivery workers are on strike tomorrow, idiots!

23rd October 2009

Whiter than White

So should the BBC have allowed Nick Griffin on to Question Time? I think, on balance, the answer has to be “yes”. Opponents have said this gives the BNP an aura of respectability, and they might be right. But I believe it is vitally important that their reprehensible ideas and views are challenged publicly.

The general consensus in the media seems to be that this was a humiliation for Griffin, but check out these reactions from Burnley and Dagenham. The key issue is that many people in poorer areas voted for the BNP because they feel totally disenfranchised from the political process and believe no mainstream party cares about them. Factor in a healthy dose of hysteria from the right-wing tabloids and you have a recipe for (limited) electoral success.

In this situation, the solution is not to ignore the BNP and hope they will go away, as Peter Hain and others seem to want. Instead, the powers that be should be explaining exactly why the BNP are wrong.

Also, Bonnie Greer is my new favourite person.

26th October 2009

Terry Weight is being held hostage
Posted by at 1.05pm | It's My Life | 1 response


Well, sort of. I’m 81.5 kg. I’ve not gone up compared to last week, but I’ve not gone down (fnarr) either.

I blame the delicious pizza place round the corner from my house — with its free delivery and affordable prices — for tempting me with a 12 inch pizza on Saturday night. Curse you, Central Cuisine!

Time to redouble my efforts, methinks.

27th October 2009

Under Destruction
Posted by at 1.06pm | Web | No responses

So it’s goodbye to GeoCities — Yahoo finally called time on the venerable webspace provider yesterday. The news didn’t really come as a shock — in fact, I was more surprised to discover that GeoCities hadn’t shut down years ago.

I never actually used GeoCities myself. Being the nerd that I am, I taught myself HTML code during the summer of 1997 and made full use of the free web space that my first ISP, Argonet, offered with their dialup package (speeds up to 34k!). I was rather scornful of GeoCities pages, with their vomit-inducing colours, distracting Animated GIFs and annoying JavaScript adverts popping up everywhere.

GeoCities was home to hundreds of thousands of web sites, but I think it’s safe to say that very few of them contributed greatly to the wealth of knowledge and useful data available online. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that most of them were vanity pages created purely for the satisfaction of their owners (nothing wrong with that, of course) or for people to share photos and stay in touch with family and friends. The latter function has been rendered largely obsolete by the advent of Facebook et al — no HTML skills necessary, just an agreement to turn over your personal information to an anonymous datacentre in Silicon Valley. And if you want vomit-inducing colours, just set up a MySpace page with some custom CSS.

Meanwhile, for pure self-aggrandisement, a personal blog does the job nicely, I’ve found. 🙂

28th October 2009

Balk like a pirate day

It’s a victory for Lily Allen, as Peter Mandelson has announced plans to disconnect persistent file sharers.

I have mixed feelings about this. I do think that the people who create music and support that industry are entitled to be paid for their work (and when 7digital is charging as little as 50p for DRM-free MP3 downloads, is paying that tiny amount really too much to ask? Even for Michael Bublé?)

On the other hand, my civil liberty instincts are telling me this is a bad thing, as I’m far from confident that those accused of illegal file sharing will be allowed to access the due process of law and defend their accusations (there are, of course, many legitimate P2P networks out there).

Also, cutting internet connections totally is a draconian step. Most internet users need their connection to function in life and could not manage without it. In the near future, access to the net could be considered as essential as running water or electricity. Throttle their connections, block the ports, but don’t cut them off entirely.