The Guile of Cuil

Without much hullabaloo, with stealth-like precision, a handful of ex-Google employees (and others) launched a rival search engine: Cuil – which, according the About page is the Irish word for knowledge (although there appears to be some dispute about what it actually means).  Semantics aside, there is even debate over the pronunciation of Cuil – in a press release, its’ founders advise that it should be pronounced “cool”.  I suppose they’re hoping that search enthusiasts will replace “Google it” with “Cuil it”?

Naturally I looked myself up using Cuil.  I was pleased to see my own web-site appear first. However, what is that car doing there?

So then I looked for “craig murphy” tdd. The results were interesting. The results are shown in the image below. Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised to see Wikipedia at the top. I didn’t know that my article Improving Application Quality Using Test-Driven Development at Method & Tools had been referenced on Wikipedia (thanks to whoever is responsible!)  Secondly, the images were, on the whole, reasonably relevant…based on the content – as the picture of the Youngsters at DDD2 demonstrates (more about this in a moment).

On the right-hand side of the image below, the developer.* link, who are those guys? I suspect they are part of the developer.* team on some sort of social outing, but the image is so small it’s unclear what’s going on. Refreshing the search results does sometimes lead to pictures of the book cover for Software Creativity, which is perhaps more appropriate.

However, whilst the images were useful, I did notice that some spurious entries were showing up. Take the result below as an example. It uses a photograph that I took (The Youngsters at DDD) and associates it with a URL linking here: http://www.webfetch.com/uk.wpro.rss/search/web/Craig The information at that URL is fairly general – whilst the information that is referenced by Cuil is there, you do have to hunt for it. But it’s not perfect: “Craig Atkinson UK based Artist / Illustrator. Hire me now damn it. CRAIG ATKINSON. fine art + illustration. available…” – this extra information has nothing to do with my search. Some work on the result filters may be required.

Of course, the photograph is on the Internet, although it’s not implicitly in the public domain, I guess that is inferred and assumed.  However this just goes to demonstrate what can happen to your photographs. May be I should start to add watermarks and release some event photos under an attribution model of sorts? That last question was, of course, rhetoric. It’s still interesting to see that Cuil have found a means of associating textual content about me with photographic content produced by me.

Poor typists and the dyslexic fraternity may be disturbed to learn that misspelling Cuil could lead you to sites of disrepute, as the first entry on this Google search confirms: http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=CULI.COM&meta= 

At this early stage, I think that the folks behind Cuil have exhibited considerable guile with their claim to have indexed 3 times as many pages as the nearest competition (today, 30/07/2008 – Search 121,617,892,992 web pages). May be they have managed to index that many pages…I’m sure that I’m not alone in wanting to see the infrastructure required to handle the index and user demand.

Within hours of its launch, the publicity surrounding Cuil was frenzy-like: it was both slated and commended as something that will mature into worthy competition for other search engines. More the former than that latter, I might add.

Is it cool to exhibit such guile? No doubt time will tell.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

MSDN Events and TechNet dates for your diary

MSDN Events
MSDN Event – Rich Internet Applications with Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1
Location: Reading
Date: 2 September 2008
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032383782&Culture=en-GB

MSDN Event: Rich Internet Applications with Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1
Location: London
Date: 4 September 2008
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032383660&Culture=en-GB

MSDN Event: What’s New in Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1?
Location: Reading
Date: 2 October 2008
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032383659&Culture=en-GB

MSDN: What’s New in Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1?
Location: Manchester
Date: 7 October 2008
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032383656&Culture=en-GB

MSDN: What’s New in Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1?
Location: Birmingham
Date: 14 October 2008
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032383649&Culture=en-GB

MSDN: What’s New in Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1?
Location: Bristol
Date: 22 October 2008
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032383652&Culture=en-GB

MSDN: What’s New in Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1?
Location: Exeter
Date: 23 October
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032383655&Culture=en-GB

MSDN Roadshow Re-Run
Location: London
Date: 24 October 2008
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032383788&Culture=en-GB

TechNet Events
TechNet Event: Microsoft Virtualisation and Management Technologies
Location: London
Date: 4 September 2008

TechNet Event: Microsoft’s Visions for Unified Communications
Location: Reading
Date: 2 September 2008

TechNet Event: Microsoft After Hours
Location: London
Date: 10 September 2008

TechNet Event: Virtualisation Licensing In-depth
Location: Reading
Date: 2 October 2008

TechNet Event: SQL Server 2008
Location: Manchester
Date: 7 October 2008

TechNet Event: Windows Powershell – Around the Datacentre in 80 Scripts
Location: Birmingham
Date: 14 October 2008

TechNet Event: Small Business Server 2008
Location: Bristol
Date: 22 October 2008

TechNet Event: SQL Server 2008
Location: Exeter
Date: 23 October 2008

TechNet Event: Exchange Server 2007
Location: London
Date: 29 October 2008

TechNet Event: Small Business Server 2008
Location: London
Date: 29 October 2008

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

e-mail: The Perils of Reply All

An e-mail “did the rounds” at our client site last week. It was a 50k image that contained a scanned paragraph of text relating to some employment issue in Australia – clearly a very focused subject and one that should never really have made it on to a global e-mail. However, for some reason this image (a jpeg) was sent to many thousands of recipients globally…including the e-mail alias abc@def.com!

The original e-mail, including its 50k image attachment was 4MB in size, the first FW: e-mail in the screenshot below. As folks started to Reply All asking to be removed from the list, the size of the e-mail grew, reaching 6MB in the screenshot – I did see one that had reached 7MB. Each Reply All message included the original recipient list as text which added to the size. As time went by, hundreds of MB’s of e-mail hit mailboxes…slowing down the entire global network.

Even as IT staff issues warnings about Reply All, still people did it…it took the best part of 48 hours before the e-mails ceased and who knows how long to clean up the mailboxes. You can be sure that some of the mailboxes in the 000’s that were affected would be unattended in someway, so the legacy of the many 4MB e-mails will live on in the OST’s (perhaps PST’s too) and backup devices for a long time to come. A very costly e-mail…

Lesson learned from this: do not click on Reply All unless it is absolutely necessary. If you do find yourself in the position of having to use Reply All, do try and slim down the e-mail body, i.e. remove unnecessary content such as embedded e-mail addresses etc.

reply all

Technorati Tags:

Murphy’s Week – 14/07/2007

Tuesday
I’m due down to London today – another flight, another early start. Still, it’s a routine of sorts – and one that I’m making as much use of as possible – lots of air-side typing (such as this, got it started early this week) and lots of user group attendance in London. I Woke up a moment or so before the alarm went off – it was rather bright outside, had I overslept, a moment of panic ensued before my bed-side partner Mr Nokia heralded the new day with his dulcet increasing ring. Routine has taught me about preparation – whilst I’ve been in this mindset for many years, I have today’s clothing lined up: from the point of waking, showering, getting dressed to being in the car can be done in 15 minutes without rushing. Of course, that 15-minute time-line is only if there’s a flight involved – for some reason it stretches the closer it is to rush hour.

WordPress 2.6 was released today. I’ve been a happy WordPress user since May 2004 – it has been astoundingly stable. My only issue was spam – to solve that I use Spam Karma. It seemed to do the job, spam just stopped. Recently however, some spam has been getting through – I suppose it’s time to consider another layer of protection, such as Akismet.

Visited a vendor over near Liverpool Street. Successful visit, good demonstration, worked for me – possible future podcast victims! I took the tube from Marble Arch over to Liverpool Street – the Central Line. A rare site, a mother with her child in a buggy – we took our son in buggy on to the underground a couple of years ago – it’s not easy, lots of stairs and narrow angles. Being able to see the mother’s predicament, she was on her own, I stepped in to carry the buggy to the surface. Good deed for the day done, tick.

Doh! I’m staying in a different hotel tonight, which means that I’ll have to pick up the whole £289.00 (+VAT) room rate myself. Geez, that’s a lot of cash. For £289.00 (+VAT) per night, you can expect laundry to be left out in the corridor, black rubbish bags also left in the corridor and Dusty Bins with KFC wrappers as decoration. In the room, you can expect belly button fluff left in the bath. Don’t believe me? Check out the photographs below. However, £289.00 (+VAT) per night does buy me access to BT OpenZone – I still have to either pay the hotel for use or make use of an existing BT OpenZone account.

Wednesday
I was hoping to attend Oliver Sturm’s F# session in Livingston tonight, however since I’m 400 miles south, that won’t be happening. Not all is lost, I am able to attend the VistaSquad meet up at Microsoft’s Victoria office. It’s a shame as I had been trying hard to plan my travel around Oliver’s session. Obviously didn’t try hard enough, such is the peril of frequent travel: I’ve lost count of the number of meet ups, golf range trips, evening golf trips, etc. that I’ve either missed or had to re-schedule because of 3-4 days week in London. Let’s not count the number of podcasts, photos and video content that I have to process… And it’s best not to think about the three inches of snail mail that I have to open and and process – thankfully most of my bills are sent to me via e-mail – what did we do before electronic billing?

Sadly I didn’t make it to the Vista Squad meet up – I came down with a dose of ‘flu-like symptoms (shivers, sweats, aching joints). What do you do in a situation like this – away from home, with nowhere to go until a hotel room becomes available from 1600? Being ill whilst away from home sucks.

On the positive side, tonight’s hotel, the Hilton Metropole, was a mere £149 (including VAT and breakfast). A far cry from the £340 charge of the night before.

Thursday
Conceded and changed my 1825 flight home to the 1715 – turns out these ‘flu-like symptoms have been doing the rounds in the office. Missed the 1525 Heathrow Express to LHR so had to make do with the 1540…

Sunday
Tried hard to watch as much of The Open as I could. Wife invited the mother-in-law up to the house to “clean”. Even with Sky+, the noise and constant visible obstructions made watching the golf a trying process. Why today? Who knows? I’m sure that in some countries it may be considered grounds for divorce – again, who knows?

This week
Listened to
107 Digital Photography Explained (for Geeks) with Aaron Hockley
118 Lean Software Development with Tom and Mary Poppendieck
84 Parallel Programming with .NET

Interesting links
WordPress 2.6
Knowing what’s on your phone–and on those of your employees

Content unbecoming of a hotel of this price

Murphy’s Week – 07/07/08

Monday & Tuesday
Bad back, stayed at home. Perhaps I rode the roller-coasters too much in Blackpool last week?

Wednesday
Flew down to London. My son is *still* thinking “home” is London – must fix this soon as he is at an impressionable age. I learn that I have two vendor meetings lined up for Thursday – this is both good and bad. Good insofar as it will fix some problems. Bad such that it would negate some of the work I’ve been doing over the past few months.

Thursday
Tried to arrange a meet-up with @irascian. The meet-up would have to be early in the evening as there is some ‘phone being launched tomorrow – Ian wants one…as do plenty of other folks on Twitter.

The vendor meetings went well. Both products look impressive with differing feature sets and price tags. Whichever product we choose to adopt will mean that our current vendor’s product will cease to be and my work of the last three months will pretty much be wasted. Granted the current vendor’s product is dated, clunky and has a less than productive user interface.

Left Paddington to went over to our Holborn office to find a test server had been switched off. A test server that’s found itself running a production app…go figure. Walked back to Foyles and Borders -both bookstores – in search of Paddington Bear books for my son (got this suitcase of books for half price – so treated myself to a copy of La Repubblica [wikipedia definition]

Beer and dinner had been arranged for a venue near Leicester Square. Despite being in the right part of town, I decided to go back to the hotel in order to drop off the laptop. I then made my way back into Leicester Square to meet up at the Salisbury pub. Dinner was next door at St Martin’s Spice.

Friday
I chose to use myOpenID as my primary OpenID and InfoCard provider – I needed it to register for the ALT.NET conference held on 12 September (clashes with SQL Bits and NRW08, choices choices)

@irascian accidentally calls, gave me a chance to find out how he got on getting his hands on that 3G iPhone thing – he did get one but it seems that O2’s activation and contracts site went down. So a lot of folks bought a device that will be nothing more than a brick for a few days. Too bad. Although I see Ian managed to get his activated at 2038 on Friday!

The flight home was late, something my colleague has noted is a fairly regular problem for the 1825 LHR T5 to Edinburgh service. Annoyingly, I get on board the ‘plane only to realise that I didn’t copy Hanselminutes 119 with Ken Schwaber on Scrum. C’est la vie – still I did manage to download enough to keep my ears busy on the short one-hour flight. I also had plenty of reading material in the form of Business Week and The New Statesman.

I found myself writing the bulk of this blog post on my Palm Treo 750 – it has a great keyboard, runs Windows Mobile 6 and has a great screen.

This week
Listened to – podcasts
104 Dave Laribee on ALT.NET

Wrote – blog posts
Where are you most productive?

Interesting links
Text-2-Go – cut text from web pages to be converted to MP3 format – great for listening to content you would normally have found yourself reading.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Where are you most productive?

May be it’s just me, but I find that certain places allow me to be more productive than others. 

For example, I find these places rather good when it comes to getting things done:

  1. airport departure lounges
  2. on a plane
  3. on a train
  4. sometimes, on a bus
  5. hotel lounges / bars, sometimes even hotel rooms

The reason I find most of these places so good for productivity stems from any combination of the following:

  • Public transport, e.g. buses.  We have no control over how fast they go.  If you arrive at your destination late, perhaps because of heavy traffic, there is little you could do about it.
  • Airlines.  Like public transport, there’s little we can do to make the “process” go any faster.  If you are delayed, too bad, nothing you can do will make the aircraft depart any faster or any closer to its original departure time.  And once you’re in the air, headwinds, tailwinds, all you can do is sit there and get one with something, it’ll take as long as it takes.  Use the time usefully and productively.  You may struggle in some lounges where other users insist upon using their mobile ‘phones and are almost shouting to the person at the other end – this is annoying me as I type this, there are two loud-mouths talking tripe on their ‘phones on my left and my right.
  • You are unknown.  In a lounge, nobody knows who you are or what you do.  You won’t get any drive-by help-desk type requests.  You won’t get anybody shouting ay you to deal with their request before you deal with the task that was on your mind when they came over and started shouting, etc.

Even if you manage to play out what I refer to as a “James May Moment” – whereby you realise that public transport is going so slow, you decide to oust the driver and drive yourself, knowing you can drive faster – it’s unlikely that your intervention will have any downstream benefits whatsoever.

So far, I have refrained from buying cheap tickets in order to get time “air-side” where I can get things done without interruption…but it could happen!

Ladies, your chance to win an MSDN Premium subscription

Via Barry Dorrans, here’s your chance to win an MSDN Premium subscription.

Alternative link http://londongirlgeekdinners.co.uk/?p=74

Barry’s rules (those currently published and those that may be published at a later date) are considered final.  The DDD organisers (individuals and Microsoft) cannot enter into any correspondence relating to this kind and generous offer.

Murphy’s Week – 23/06/08

On Monday…
Flight delays.  Once again I find myself shocked and surprised at the audacity of my fellow traveller.  I have started being very selective in my choice of seat – more often than not I am sitting beyond row 13 as the rear of the aircraft often boards first.  Boarding first has its advantages – for me, it lets me get first pick of the overhead lockers.  The overhead locker is important – after the LHR T5 fiasco, I no longer carry hold luggage for anything other than family trips and where I’m away for more than 5-6 days.  On this occasion, I had secured my bag in the overhead locker, however in order to allow the gentleman in the opposite aisle seat to do likewise, I had moved one row back and was standing behind my allocated seat.  Like a torpedo aimed at the rear of the aircraft, an OAP with ruler-like precision clearly thought we were invisible – she was exercising her “right” to move toward the rear whilst preventing others moving forward.  The chap opposite just shook his head; I was frankly stunned.  However, it happens more often than not.

On Tuesday…
I read an interesting piece in The New Statesman magazine by Shazia Mirza.  Shazia closes her article with the phrase “Google me then”.  It seems that the brand name Google has become the Hoover of the 21st century.  Hoover make vacuum cleaners (amongst other things) – however a lot of folks say “let’s Hoover the carpet” when they don’t own a Hoover product.  People are now using the word Google in place of “search” or “look on the Internet” – I guess this is the kudos associated with being [close to] first to market.  Kudos to The New Statesman for opening up their back issues for free viewing.

I travelled home this evening.  After the T5 opening fiasco, I bought myself a “right sized” cabin bag that is able to hold 4-5 days worth of wearables and all my gadgets and laptop. Usually this bag goes through security without question.  Not tonight.  Fortunately I had a little time to spare, so the full bag search that followed didn’t hold me back too much.  Apparently, I had a corkscrew in my bag…given the amount of travelling I do, that’s the last thing I would pack.  Besides, there are equally as dangerous items that are allowed in the cabin: BA meals are on glass plates, coffee/tea served in china mugs, propelling pencils, broken credit cards….)  Anyway, I digress.  A full bag search involved decanting everything into three trays: one for clothing, books, etc. the other two for electrical goods.  Oddly enough, no corkscrew was found. 20 minutes of time consumed though.

Dell’s D430 laptop is rather neat. I was able to get some typing done mid-flight…whilst the food tray was still in place.  If ever I need to buy a laptop myself, the small foot-print devices will be high on my list of choices.  I found that using Dark Room (thanks to @dchristiansen for the recommendation) helps focus the mind and hinders anybody looking over your shoulder hoping to read what you’re typing.

On Friday…Blackpool – Arrival
Hotel check-in. Discover that the hotel has mysteriously lost its liquor license and is unable to serve booze until further notice.  Some early warning would have been appreciated, I could have brought my own booze down with me.

That night we discover that our “family room” is an oven.  The one fan that is in the room is not suitable – largely because the “family” bit of the room was actually bunk beds in a separate room – which in its own right is actually pretty good. Kudos to the hotel reception though, they quickly brought up a second fan and an extension cable.

On Saturday….Blackpool – Day 1
At Blackpool Pleasure Beach…

It seems that the thrill I get from rollercoasters is getting hard to find in Blackpool.  I’ve done the Pepsi Max Big One, Avalanche, the Big Dipper, Space Invader 2, Infusion and the Tango Ice Blast – none of which are really able to float my boat.  I guess I have to go to Cedar Point and try the Top Thrill Dragster.  Space Invader 2 was a disappointment.  The queue took 45 minutes to process for what was a 2 minute ride.

A lot of places in Blackpool stop serving food at 2000.  Even on a Saturday.  This caused some problems.  Room service in our hotel (no liquor license, remember) managed to offer French Fries and rounds of sandwiches.  My wife ordered two portions of fries and two rounds on white bread…and received one round on white bread, the other on brown bread.  Still it was good service otherwise.  My dinner came from the local Nisa…a BLT, a bag of ice and a couple of tins of beer!

On Sunday…Blackpool – Day 2
Today we took a tram south towards Blackpool Tower.  I don’t think I’d ever reached the top of the tower before, so today was a “tick box moment” (BucketList—).  I took our son all the way to the top of the tower – he was un-fazed by the transparent (but heavily scratched) floor at 380ft- the Walk of Faith as it’s known.  The view from the top was worth it, as was the time spent in the tower facility itself (£10 for adults and £5 for children).

Later today we went to Sealife, just next door to Blackpool Tower.  We had a couple of buy one get one free passes so the entry cost was very acceptable: £12.50 for adults.  There are plenty of fish and other sea creatures to look at here and there’s plenty of information to read and take it too.  The only thing I didn’t like about my Sealife experience was the “exit strategy” – getting out was a maze of stairs and doors, not really very disabled-person-friendly (we had a pushchair).  There is a lift at the start, however that would mean going against the flow of visitors (it’s like Ikea should be, it’s best to go through the exhibit in one direction only).  The exit itself is weird: you end up coming out of the Dr. Who shop…

Photos here.

The Yates Wine Lodge “experience”
Looking for a dinner venue…  After a rather successful day taking in the sights, we found ourselves looking for a place to have an early evening meal.  Now, picture the scene: wife, 3 year old son, mother-in-law and invited guest, the centre of Blackpool, around 1730 in the evening.  We wander around for a bit, pass through the Winter Gardens, everything was closing up. 

We move on to the likes of Talbot Street where I spot an O’Neill’s Irish bar – a decent pint I think to myself.  Wrong: “no children allowed on any part of the premises”.  Too bad, we’ll take our custom elsewhere, now and in the future – one sign kills your custom. 

Less than 100 yards away, we find a Yates Wine Lodge (Blackpool North).  Now these places have a pretty good name.  My wife, mother-in-law and guest decided to have the Sunday roast.  It was Sunday, in England after all – they do roast very well.  Not at Yates, “roast is off today”.  OK, we’ll take three gammon steaks instead, and a bottle of Echo Falls Merlot.  The server turns around, looks in the ‘fridge, consults with his boss then says “No Merlot, we have what you see in the fridge, Rose and the white”.   Right, I keep my red wine in the same fridge as my white and rose.

However, whilst attempting to order food and drinks, the server took a call on his “radio” – he excused himself and disappeared.  Moments later, he appeared from the kitchen carrying three plates of hot food, clearly destined for another customer.  Hold on, we were mid-order. 

We concede and choose the Echo Falls Rose.  The bottle duly appears at the bar, closely followed by three glasses.  Three rather dirty glasses.  I reject the glasses and ask for clean ones…hey, I had the mother-in-law with me! 

Meanwhile, the server (behind the bar) is trying to process my credit card…my BAA credit card with pictures of foreign national on it.  The server had some issue using the credit card so was forced to call in the manager.  Now, the manager’s appearance was so similar to the pub manager bloke in Men Behaving Badly – it was uncanny.  He looked at my credit card and went for the swipe card that authenticated him for that till.  You won’t believe what he said next: “a credit card with foreign people on it, we don’t want that in here”.  Of course, he didn’t realise that I was right beside him when he said this…the server however, did.  The manager left the scene, with my eyes following his every move – I was very tempted to take my business elsewhere.  By now, the server was shaking, probably wondering what I was about to do.  You know, I’d love to be a ghost customer in these situations – working for head office, weeding out the establishments that fail to meet even the most basic of customer service standards.

The food itself was perfectly acceptable, even though the garlic bread with cheese was cold.  However the toilet was unclean, there was a lack of toilet paper and there were many flying and crawling insects.  Similarly, the cleanliness of the area around and behind the bar itself was unacceptable.  We cleaned the table with a wet wipe, it was demonstrated that the tables needed cleaned rather than dusted down.

We’re unlikely to use this chain of eateries in the future.

Here’s a photograph of the said establishment.

Blackpool 2008 Summary
Blackpool opening hours: they suck. 

Sealife: good value, worth it.

Staff on the trams, they’re pretty damn good. 

Yates Wine Lodge Blackpool North sucks.  Tweet 1Tweet 2. Tweet 3.

Blackpool Tower: good value, worth it.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach: expensive, consistency between the ticket selling facilities needs to be achieved though.  My son’s wristband wasn’t put on tightly so I went to the nearest ticket booth to have it re-issued – I was told to go back to the main entrance!  At the main entrance they asked for the original receipt – which was with my mother-in-law elsewhere in the facility.  Thankfully they re-issued it after I explained who much effort it would take to find her quickly.  Something needs to be done to manage the queuing situation: waiting 45 minutes for a 2 minute ride takes a lot of time out of your day…

Murphy’s Week – 16/06/08

On Monday…
I try to avoid travelling on a Monday as it means packing a bag on Sunday night.  As such, Mondays are often spent in Edinburgh, with the bag packing chore postponed to Monday night.

On Tuesday…
I flew down to London – I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made the trip this year, either Dopplr or TripIt will give me that information if required..  Travelling through security is now a finely tuned process: all metallic objects are in my cabin bag, including my belt (I’m so sad that I actually pack the belt in the bag the night before).  All that I have to do is remove the laptop and liquids. 

For liquids, I have a “right sized” zipper bag that I bought from M&S – it’s perfect.  However, today the zipper bag isn’t perfect.  I’m told that liquids have to be in a vacuum sealed bag.  Where am I going to get one of those from at Edinburgh Airport?  Fear not, the security staff will issue you with a regular transparent bag that is vacuum sealed!  For real – the same security attendant who told me I needed a vacuum sealed bag issued me with a flimsy “stay shut” polythene bag, he stated that this was vacuum sealed!  What did he do?  He stuck my zipper bag inside their flimsy bag!  He let it through anyway.  I have “issues” relating to the consistency of airport security – the strictness plastic bag “rule” appears to depend upon who is working on the day.

Tuesday night saw me join up with @zimakki, @kareena and @serialseb (not exhaustive) for a chat about alt.net, beers and some Italian food.  This was the second alt.net beers meet up this year, details about the first one can be found here.   Thanks to Zi for pointing out a couple of podcast victims.  We dined at Italian Graffiti.   Of course, had The Blue Posts bar in Kingly Street chosen to keep their kitchen open for 12 hungry people, we would have stayed there.  Photos here.

On Wednesday… 
This evening I attended the Vista Squad user group – their meeting was code-named “The Wrath of Khan”.  Giorgio Sardo a UX Consultant for Microsoft spoke about Building RIA for Desktop, Web and Mobile using Silverlight and WPF (slides are here).  Stephen Lamb, also from Microsoft, spoke about Network Access Protection (using a Mac and virtual machines).  Photos here.

On Thursday….
An evening of SQL Server 2008 courtesy of the SQL Server User Group. Simon Sabin and Jasper Smith took to the floor, holding the attention of nearly 100 attendees as they discussed and demonstrated TSQL improvements, new data types, changes to CLR, spatial data, hierarchies, service broker, changes to tools, SSIS improvements, Integrated Full Text, Sparse Columns, Filtered Indexes, XQuery changes, Compression, Change Data Capture, Change Tracking, Intellisense, Table Valued Parameters, Script Task in SSIS, Performance Data Collector and Reporting services.  Photos here.  Whole crowd chinposin here.

Prior to the SQL meeting, I took the tube along to the Tottenham Court Road (tube station).  Here you will find a very large bookshop: Foyles. I was in the market for a couple of dictionaries (one Spanish, one Italian) and some Paddington Bear books. 

After I had completed my book purchase, a short walk to Oxford Circus was required – I needed to take the Victoria Line south to get to the Microsoft offices for the SQL meeting.  However, what should have taken me 5-6 minute on foot (0.5 of a mile), took me nearly 30 minutes.  This delay was due to the fact that I appeared to be the only person walking down Oxford Street with any sense of purpose and/or urgency.

A Realisation…
Three user group events; 160 folks, this tweet: less than 10 females.

 

Murphy’s Week

Partially inspired by @blowdart’s "get off my lawn" tweet on Twitter, this new piece of writing will provide a commentary of my experiences through each week that I deem worthy of blogging about.  I’m writing it largely as a diary for me, however if you find it remotely amusing then I have achieved a secondary goal. 

To steal a phrase from @irascian, some of the content might be brutally honest, especially if it relates to poor customer service.

To kick things off, I’m going to write about w/c 16th June and  w/c 23rd June.