The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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1:58pm on Thursday, 22nd February, 2024:



It's market day at the university on Thursdays, and today we had a return of the Gourmet Yorkshire Wrap stall. They take big Yorkshire puddings and put fancy food in them.

Bah! If it's gourmet then it's not an authentic Yorkshire pud.


2:56pm on Wednesday, 21st February, 2024:



These government cuts have really hit the MI6 budget hard.


5:58pm on Tuesday, 20th February, 2024:



This was written on a whiteboard at the front of the room at the Educational Away Day on Friday.

To be fair, the cups are more delicious than the coffee.


7:33am on Monday, 19th February, 2024:



Out of the blue, a friend of mine, Nigel Roberts, gave me a game recently: League of the Lexicon. It has high production values, with the box reminding me a little of Apple packaging.

I think it's going to be one of those games that I read rather than play.


11:37am on Sunday, 18th February, 2024:



Although I may be somewhat disappointed with the Essex County Standard standards of sub-editing, it's not the only publication to publish the same article twice in different versions in the same issue.

On the left, a piece from page 8 of this month's Fortean Times; on the right, a piece from page 22:

I always recommend to my students that they read what they've written before handing it in. I recommend to the publishers of the Fortean Times that they do something similar.

I am not suggesting that the articles were written by one of the affected sheep.


11:32am on Saturday, 17th February, 2024:

Classic Issue


It's a classic issue of the Essex County Standard this week. It's got it all:

It's well worth the £1.50 cover price, and at 56 pages is more than twice the length of the Daily Telegraph — although the second half is family announcements, ads for family announcements, car ads, car articles (which are written by the people who place the car ads), local sports, plus bought-in TV listings, health articles and travel articles, so is like the pull-out the Telegraph came with that I didn't read.


8:11am on Friday, 16th February, 2024:

Educational Away Day


We have an Educational Away Day today, where "Away" means the building 20 metres away and "Day" means 10am to 3pm. I don't know what "Educational" means but the gist is that your only excuse for not coming is if you're deceased (by more than a few days).

Educational Away Days tend to go in one of three ways, best illustrated by these painting by Walter Molino:

It's also possible they go in all three in that order.

I'll find out which it is between 10am to 3pm today.


2:54pm on Thursday, 15th February, 2024:



My office door at work is stiff when it's close to closing, so when I'm in I usually use it with the door touching the jamb. This tells people I'm in but means I don't have to listen to the students outside who are queueing to use a lab. It looks a bit like this:

It looked exactly like that when I came into work on Tuesday, having not visited my office since Thursday. It was locked, in the sense that a key had been turned in the lock, but the lock wasn't lined up with the strike plate.

I know my door is stiff so I'm always sure to close it properly when I leave. Someone else with a key (so pretty well any cleaner, maintenance engineer, secretary or security officer) must have had cause to go into my office then left without shutting the door properly. This is worse than when they fixed the lights recently and did close the door but didn't lock it, because at least it didn't look unlocked.

I don't know how long my office door was left ajar, but it could have been for three whole days.

Fortunately, nothing was stolen from it. I don't know if anything was hidden in it, but there was a sniffer dog on campus today so let's hope not.


12:58pm on Wednesday, 14th February, 2024:

Dishwasher Safe


My new thermos flask has arrived. It keeps tea reasonably well, so I'll definitely be using it to take to work now, although perhaps drinking a litre of the stuff immediately before driving home is a decision I won't make in future.

So, large piece of card on the outside of the flask in tiny little instructions inside it: which of you is right about whether the flask is dishwasher-safe or not?


6:30pm on Tuesday, 13th February, 2024:

Three Stars


The price of a cup of tea at the university has gone up to £2.25. This is rather more than I am willing to pay for a cup of tea, so I've decided to take a thermos flask from home instead. My trusty several-decades-old one, which I haven't used for the past two of those decades, still worked just fine when I tested it overnight, but I'm not persuaded that its inside smells like it should (that is, it has a smell and it shouldn't have one). I therefore looked online for a replacement.

Here's one of the reviews I came across:

It sounds fair enough, but I'm not sure I can trust the judgement of someone who can't count to four.


9:49am on Monday, 12th February, 2024:



For reasons to do with writing the third book in my Dheghōm series, I found myself having to buy a copy of the Daily Telegraph this morning. £3 for 26 pages — no wonder it's the newspaper of choice for the wealthy.

I did learn something interesting, though:

Their typesetting software doesn't incorporate a spell-checker.


10:00am on Sunday, 11th February, 2024:

Turkey Cock Lane


Here's what the Marvellous Map of Great British Place Names records for the area around where I live now.

As with the East Yorkshire section, there are some places shown that aren't noticeably amusing (Hainault Forest? Swingleton Green? Braintree?) but some that are. Nasty and Ugley are good enough to make the map's top 50 (Ugley being especially famous for the "Ugley Women's Guild").

I thought I'd post this because Turkey Cock Lane is where the antique shop is where that racist-looking wooden statue was for sale. These are indeed real places.


9:33am on Saturday, 10th February, 2024:



My Corsair K95 Platinum keyboard, like other Corsair products, uses their iCUE system. This is a large piece of software that handles all manner of Corsair products, including the mouse and the computer's cooling system. I don't have Corsair versions of either of those, nor of anything else Corsair, just the keyboard; nevertheless, I have to install the whole package.

There are occasional updates to iCUE. I always install these in case they're there to make iCUE talk to Windows when the latter has or is about to update. Once such iCUE update three days ago had the effect of crashing when the iCUE loader was loading. This left my keyboard in some kind of demo mode, rotating flashing lights at me, while not giving me access to any of my carefully-constructed keyboard macros. There were no error messages, because the error-reporting program also crashed.

After trying assorted solutions recommended by people who had had similar troubles for earlier releases, I removed the new software in its entirety (which involved four manual deletions of full directories) and did a fresh install from scratch. The problem was freshly-installed along with it.

OK, so clearly I needed to restore an old version of the software. Sadly, if not entirely unpredictably, there was no old version of the software. I don't know if iCUE tells Windows that it doesn't want backing up, or if it removes the backups itself, or if the reinstalls I did overwrote the old backups. I do know that Corsair doesn't make any versions of iCUE available online except the latest, though. You can download them from assorted dubious web sites that may or may not have modified them with keyboard loggers or worse, but not from the Corsair site.

Eventually, deep in a forum about iCUE loader crashes, I located a very long URL pointing to somewhere on the Corsair site that kept an earlier version of the software (4.33.138 — it's currently 5.11.96). It must have escaped their deletion net. A fresh install of this one worked fine, and my keyboard is mine to command again. In fact, it's better than that: many of the things I want to do are much easier in the old version — recording and assigning macros to keys, for example.

Corsair knows that its software is so bloated that it's prone to falling flat on its face. Why it doesn't provide recent-but-superseded versions to download when this happens is beyond me. I would have been less cross if I could have downloaded 5.11.95 than I was when I had to waste a couple of hours trying to source something legitimate that wasn't going to install ransomware alongside it.

Somewhat ironically, I'm currently reading "The Inmates are Runningr the Asylum" by Alan Cooper, which has just spent a chapter ranting about exactly this kind of thing. Its examples are often obsolete, though; it really needs updating....


9:17am on Friday, 9th February, 2024:

Junk Mail


I paid for a mail redirection when my mother died, so I could inform anyone who tried to contact her who hadn't heard the news. So far, this has meant two people who sent her Christmas cards. Other than them, she receives two to three pieces of junk mail per week.

The mail redirection is only good for a year, so when it stops six weeks from now then the person now living at her address will have to recycle it instead.

So much for the efficacy of the assorted mailing preference services I registered with to get her off such mailing lists.


12:18pm on Thursday, 8th February, 2024:



My wife managed to break her wooden spatula this week. She's had it since before I knew her, so was very attached to it.

Fortunately, she had a spare that came with a wok we bought a couple of decades ago. Unfortunately, it's rather larger than her old one.

Tempted though I am to offer to cut 2cm from the edge and sand it down a bit, I'm not confident that I could do it professionally enough to meet my wife's inscrutable standards, so I'm keeping quiet.

If it had been me who had broken the spatula, I'd be in serious trouble. In all its years, I never actually used it, though, because I have a wooden spoon my mother gave me when I went to university that I use instead.

OK, so my wife insists that her mother gave her that spoon, so I'd probably be in trouble if I broke that, but it seems reasonably robust so I think I'm OK for a while yet.


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Copyright © 2024 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).