V and A Fencing

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to perform in a fencing demonstration at the V and A museum in London the results of which you can see here Doms Photos (you’ll have to scroll down a bit as dom put some roller derby photos on at the top, and I refuse to tell you which one is me as I quote obviously look like a twit), it was quite fun,but we had to cut down the swearing and abuse that is such a part of modern fencing, this is sample of what were were not allowed to say

Onlooker: so to challenge someone do you say “I challenge Thee'” and slap them with you glove?
Fencer: Nope, we yell Muther F**, and knee them in the balls.

there were medieval demonstrations of fighting, and people dress up mighty fine, as well as all the amazing things that are normally at the V&A, all well organised, however the highlight of the night was the reaction of the security guards when we arrived,

“whats in the bag?” he asks,

“swords”, I reply, he pales a bit, backs off a couple of steps and looks at the half dozen identical bags held by the rough looking and sweaty lot standing in front of him,

“im afraid you will have to leave them here” he says,

“Thats going to make the demonstration a tad boring” comes a voice, he then inspects a epee and states that you could hurt someone with it,

“not a much as a golf club” is the reply, the poor gentleman then has to watch as the rabble start the normal argument of which would be easier to kill someone with, a “wood driver” or an “iron”

how ever, now that I can go to the nationals in a months time, (work changed its plans), I have realised that there is the off chance that I might have to practice else I’ll go home to mother on a sheet of blotting paper

Linux update

My grief!!, hundreds of updates, for Linux and fire fox out at once and all their supported bits and bobs triggered a 200Meg update via the update manager, most things squeaked and squawked at the sudden change , most frightenley VMWARE would not load, but top tip of the day, if a Linux app will not load, run it in terminal and it will normally make plain its grievance and tell you what to do to fix, this all my apps have done (phew!!) and we are back up and running, but time to make another ghost style image (curtasey of Part Image and the system rescue cd)

British Library

Am currently in the British Library, which i have to say is a perfect example of when tax is put to good use, i only wish companies were run this well, from layout to ease of use to technical setup and security, a pleasure to use and to work there, As part of the design work i am doing there, i got out graphic Japan: from woodblock and zen to manga and kawaii” by Natalie Avella , graphic Japan: from woodblock and zen to manga and kawaii” by Natalie Avella, and among its interesting and insightful view points is the use of the IBM ‘nipple’ logo, is most likely based on the red circle in the Japanese flag (which is a very common design motif in a lot of Japanese products, also they had this amazing image

which apparently is what none IBM customers look like when they have not bought the right products (mumble mubble….sharepoint….mumble mumble)
(for those that think i have pinched it out of the book, i haven’t, i just googled it and there are a bunch of places that have it)

Windows to Linux

Recently i decided to make the jump from Windows to linux for all my kit rather than just a few select bits, this was strangely driven by Apple, i altered the volume setting on my apple so that i could make my ear drums bleed (I worship at the altar of happy hardcore), this went fine, until i plugged it back into itunes, and it stated quite flatly that i had altered my ipod and that it would wipe it, no cancel button no “are you sure” , nothing, nada, big brother knows best, right then Jobs you git!!! (sound of IPOD being punted across a room), im off to get a new media player (but that’s a subject for another blog),

This led to a complete hissy fit against all the big players. (damn them all to hell, if i wanted my computer to do that i would tell it to!!)

So new laptop in hand, i download the latest ubuntu and began, the following is the things i have learned from the experience, with the windows to linux software alternatives.

1) BUY VMware, yes i know its $200 per Host version, but if your doing it on a professional basis it is so worth it.

2) Download the VMware converter (its free), then using it take a vmware image of you existing installation, this means that you have all you old stuff with you and can be using all your old software, no licence keys lost, no discovery that there is no equivalent software on linux, its totally the soft option. and the more you use it the more you love it (yes i know virtual box is supposed to be faster, but quite frankly I’m looking for reliability here)

3) On you vmware box enable shared folders then basically have a drive mapped to your “home” folder, this means that you can use this as your common store (it should be known that you WILL get some file location problems when you do this for things like the lotus data directory, as linux is case sensitive on file names and there seems no consistency even in big programs like on whether they are looking for “data” , “DATA” or “Data”)

Software Alternatives:

Windows: My Eclipse
Linux: My Eclipse
Comment: Duh!!!, but i have noticed that if you’re sharing your workplace on a share folder between my old VMware windows version and the new linux version, there is some case issues on the directory names

Windows: Lotus notes
Linux: Lotus Notes
Comment: well not quite, it’s supposed to be here in 8.5, so not quite there, but have sacrificed a goat to the great yellow god

Windows: Mame32 (its an arcade emulator for the heathens out their)
Linux: Loemu on top of SDLMame
Comment: exactly the same even my logistic usb controllers work

Windows: Total Recorder (a stream ripper for radio)
Linux: streamripper (i kid you not its actually called that)
Comment: command line instead of gui, but so easy to use its embarrassing

Windows: FLashFXP (simply the best FTP client)
Linux: FileZilla
Comment: Q handling not quite as good but the best linux one that i have found so far

Windows: Outlook
Linux: Google Mail for domains
Comment: yes i know i should be using domino, but quite frankly i just want it to work, on my own mail i just want to be a user, so sue me,

Windows: Office
Linux: Open Office
Comment: yeah yeah symphony, again this is a core app and i just want to be a user

Windows: msn/sametime
Linux: pidgin
Comment: it works and its already on there, I’m happy

Windows: Better File Rename
Linux: Bulk Update
Comment: a fab improvement enabling me to use regular expressions to strip out stuff i don’t want

Windows: The Rest of the Stuff
Comment: i just works, even audio ripping tools like “sound taxi”

on the whole I’m very pleased, and have no wish to go back.

Right of Substitution

Just a little thought, as contractors we all know we have the right of substitution in all of our dealings with our clients, and we all know its is one of those things that the merry people at Her Mage’s Inspectors of Taxes look at when deciding if we are disguised employees, now there is a problem with that as for the most part it is a little tricky to implement, as often we are the most skilled member of our little companies and it can be difficult to find a suitable substitute that the client will accept, and even if you have skilled people, if they are any good they will already be at a clients site in there own major client contract,

But I would urge people to have a check with people they know in the lotus community who are managing the work from home thing, people like Matt White, Jake Howlett and Mark Haller, now these people are both obviously good (or they would not be able to survive out in the hard world), and possibly available to short work periods, (it should be noted at this point that i have not even mentioned this to Mr Haller or Mr Howlett so I am not suggesting that they would want to even consider such a idea, I only give them as examples to show that these people are out there, so no going to them if you don’t know them really well and saying “X says you can sub for me when I’m on holiday”), its just an idea, but it does help all parties (extra work is always welcome when you are constantly looking for clients).

ILUG 2008

Well after an amazing time at Ilug 2008 I have decided to return to bloggin, so if you wish to blame anyone blame Matt White , Paul Mooney and co., this time instead of just fencing im going to try to give a bit back with some tech stuff and general useful bits rather than the insane ramblings that were “stickfight”, i have never the less bunged the old stuff in as old entries. so read them at your peril.

Anyway back to Ilug, it was my first serious conference (rather than a feeble excuse to bunk off for a while), and i have to say it was well worth it, meeting good people (blogs made flesh), and learning a hell of a lot, doing the session with Ben Poole was a bit nerve wracking, but i now have the bug and am on the look out for more stuff to try and do sessions on (I have to put the muppets guide for my part of the session up here, just have to neaten it up)

never realised how much effort went into such a set up, and as we were all attending for free you felt a bit guilty, so hats of to the whole crew

Things I learnt over xmas

1) If you mix vanilla custard with Mascarpone it tastes like Walls Mr whippy icescream
2) The Popcorn Hour 110 is bloody marvellous!
3) A week is about my limit to be without my girlfriend before i start to pine (hoooowwwwl).
4) Thoughtful presents beat expensive ones every time
5) Once a tech always a tech: My father is able to take on ipods, podcasts, media tanks, nas, dvd ripping and VHS conversion in one day…Go dad!
6) Read the Bloody Manual!!!
7) i can survive about half a day with out the internet
8) God i needed a few days off!!!
9) Christmas is the worst time to not be seeing your children (worse that the rest of the year put together).
10) Family is best

Monday’s Admin….

Monday’s Admin is fresh of face,
Tuesday’s Admin can keep the pace,
Wednesday’s Admin is distrustful, rude and grim,
Thursday’s Admin has hair starting to thin,
Friday’s Admin is hiding in the pub,
Saturday’s Admin has joined fight club,
But the Admin who is born on the Sabbath Day, is a developer at heart and therefore fair prey.

Literature reuse at its worst, after a day performing my role as a ‘fill in’ administrator at my main client, when our main administrator is off for the day.

Sickly DNS

Even things you really on sometimes break, been having a rooting problem
with mails to yahoo.com sub address ( BTINTERNET.COM, TALK21.COM, etc. etc).

this displayed its self as the everhappy

“11/21/2007 09:02:48 AM Router: No messages transferred to BTINTERNET.COM
(host mx1.bt.mail.yahoo.COM) via SMTP: SMTP Protocol Returned a Transient Error
11/21/2007 09:02:48 AM Router: No messages transferred to BTINTERNET.COM (host
mx2.bt.mail.yahoo.COM) via SMTP: SMTP Protocol Returned a Transient Error”

now normally you just shrug and know its gonna fix its self, after all its
“Transient”, but this one just kept on happening, solution, its the DNS
resolution of the mx record,

1) Ping the mx1 record to get an IP address from the effected server, and form
somewhere else, see if there is a different IP address
2) If yes, then edit you “host” file, (im assuming windows server so most
likely c:Windowssystem32driversetchost) and add the entries eg.
“ host mx1.bt.mail.yahoo.COM”
3) save the file, then stop and start your domino router, to trigger a resend
(“tell router quit”, “Load router”)
4) see if the mail routes

if it does then, your dns is sucking


1) refresh you DNS cache, open DOS box and type “Ipconfig /flushdns”

2) if that does not solve you problem ( after you have remembered to take the
host entries out), then its time to switch DNS suppliers (or just winch and
your isp), Matt White (http://www.11tmr.com) recommended http://www.opendns.com
, who i now use for my hosting servers

hope that spares someone misery.

Rat Scratching 7

I tell you that sometimes life is just too stressful for complete happiness, with all this contract stuff hanging over me at work I just don’t feel like fencing, It’s not the fencing itself, it’s all the traveling when all you want to be doing is going to sleep, (or in my case work on a load of work related stuff). This has been my third week of skiving and is going to be the last!, cant do fighting tomorrow as I am meeting my accountant, so in the last 3 weeks I will have been to 2 club nights and 1 lesson (as well as 2 games of squash). That is so poo it is untrue, I should have done 12 nights and 6 lessons (plus 3 games of squash) but we will sort it all out and get back on form.

In the mean time has anybody else noticed that if you fence a lot it has really strange effects on other sports you play, for this example take squash –

I used to like squash and be quite good at it at school but now I am totally bobbins!! and it’s all fencings fault, I lunge for every ball, when it gets too close to me I attempt to prime it ( which by the way does not work in any shape
or form other than to make the person you are playing look at you in a funny way and point out that in hitting the ball it might help if you swing your arm not just flap at it ) also the unconscious desire to stab the person playing
you with the racket rather than chase after the ball does not lead to what I would call a “good sense of fair play” in the court ( though it does help with the score as the other sod just ends up hiding in a corner). Even things like
distance are all screwed up, I mean distance? It’s not exactly Mensa is it? You know you should be able to cope with more than one sport but noooo! If a ball flies over your head do you turn round and hit it properly, no you don’t, you
shuffle backwards and crash into the back wall (the ball then hits you on the head, further proving that this is a dumb sport) and if you can hide the fact that you are a fencer in your movements you find that you make little slipups
when talking about the game, these tend to make someone who does not know your sword-wielding alter ego a bit on the nervous side, as you describe each point won as a “hit”‘ and the match as a “fight” (people end up saying “its only a
game, its not serious” and you look at them as if they are potty [which all non-fencers are in my opinion] ) oh! And there is one final thing and that is, no matter how much you want too, no matter how much you think you need to. Do
not fleche!! There is simple not enough room and even if you can finish the move before the wall finishes you, you will never ever stop in time; for proof just go to the squash courts in Harbor Exchange and have a look at the walls
there are a number of Stickfight-shaped holes in them and the odd complaint of thunderous impacts. I have to say, though, that a fleche wins you the point if only for the fact that the person you are playing tends to stop and stare (or
run to get medical help) and this means they miss their shot, but you can only do so many of the damn things in a match before you are dead to the world (take my word for it squash gives a fencer more bruises than actual fencing ever will.)

There is good news in the up-and-down side of fencing in the real world, and that is with the t-shirts, someone has finally got one of the t-shirts from Zazzle and I suddenly realized that I had hardly made it easy for people to jump straight to their favorite designs, so I started to put links next to each of the Zazz-able designs, this as it turns out looks completely crap and a thing to be ashamed of, so it’s back to web development and out comes the CSS book (cascading style sheet) but you would hardly credit the complete pain in the arse it was to get it looking how I wanted on all browsers and not use tables (sometimes I think that mankind takes a special joy in going backwards to go forwards, see the new foil timings for proof of this) but finally I have done it [with a little help from a very helpful site that detailed the oddities of Internet Explorer) so we should a nice and clear t-shirt page, if you disagree please tell me so I can sort it.

Jo Maynard is really coming on great guns with the digital drawing and hopefully she will soon have her own area on here for her art, but in the meantime you can see her other work at http://pwincess.deviantart.com

Leicester soon – oooo eeerrr, I will not muck it up, I will NOT muck it up!!, I will get a good poule so I do not meet some evil sod in the 64, mind you its not like I have a lot of points to defend ( try none!!) , Leicester is normally
on my eldest Childs birthday, but this year they are all going to Euro Disney (the whole class plus mothers , that just sounds so like hell to me, trapped in a coach with 20 odd mothers and 30 odd screaming primary school kids, murder
would be done by the time we got to Dover) so I have been given the weekend to go fencing (the real reason for existence ) all I have to remember is what my coaches have told me (promise that you won’t tell anybody but I have roughly
worked out that if I get a good 32 then I might just make it into the top 50, but that kind of working out is sad and I should not do it ), talking of which have not given a progress on how Steve’s lessons are going for ages (like you care!!) ,

He is really starting to push it, and it is so much fun, he is making me think so much more, its not just a physical challenge anymore, its a mental one, more and more I can’t understand the way people go for coaches that do predictable
things and the same lesson each week, and the thing is that its not as if Steve does the same lesson with everybody for that week and just changes it each week, he does different lessons with each person (sure each of the weeks lesson
have some elements the same for everybody, but they are few and far between.) they really are good value for money, its just a shame that he has been ill recently, and that I might have to cut down on my lessons if I have to change
my workplace ( but that is the life of a contractor, if I was a permanent I would not be able to afford so many lessons, so it all evens out)

Well, at the moment I am a hobo (Have sword, will travel); until “42” finally gets his new house, I am sharing a room with Jo and Marc’s pets (at least I will have a snack in the night!) and to be honest it has been a total
revelation, I never realized how hard coaches work or how much mucking round goes into the whole thing (and I am not even going to start on the kit washing) each night there is a pile of office work, so just think of that when you think the swine’s in the black jackets are having it easy.

Well, that is about it for this Stickfight, I have put another couple of t-shirts up and the rest of the design should be sorted out dead soon…..

(long pause)

Ah its been a while, since I have had a good rant so lets set to it with avengence, Firstly Bristol, another comp and other cockup in the pool and another 64, its starting to get on my thungers, the only good part is that in my 128, I meet the bloke who beat me in the 128 at Bristol (or was it the welsh last year), sorry I cant remember the gentleman’s name or the comp, only the fight, and in hind sight it was a bad idea of him to mention the fact ( especially as he beat me 15-14), it turned a fight I was nervous about in to a killing session with a happy result of 15-8 to me, ah!! revenge is sweet (and none fattening), I then got slapped by Tristan Parris, who broke one of my swords left me covered in bruises and bleeding in 3 places, but at least he had a run for his money, so out at 64, but at least it let me get some good footage for the movie I posted last ratscratchings, (I want to thank all my loyal readers and site rapers, for getting stickfight into the top 20 fencing websites in the world YAHHHHH!!!!), I have no new movie for you this time nor will i be able to get the Sussex for you as my son tearfully demanded that I was at home this weekend (does this boy not realise that fencing is life!!), but I do have new t-shirts for you bringing the total to 54 (nearly half way to my goal), these t-shirts also contain a first for stick fight, its first
submission! this one comes from “Tarmac” he can be found on http://www.fencingforum.com , i hope you like it. also Heriot-Watt Uni up in Scotland are going to use the stickfight movies in their sports union fair Wednesday 6th at October, so double cool.

have just heard about the fun people had a Sussex ( especially Ben measures who came in the L4, and am now moping!! (come out and play with the other fencers
little stickfight, SHARNT!! :-< ) and I ended up sanding floors and more general home DIY, today is my first lesson with Steve for 2 weeks (the poor bloke has been off ill with back problems and I am dreading it as I have been a totally skiving swine and have only been fencing once in the last 2 weeks ( Do you have any last requests before are shot for being a skiving svine!!), so have to get back on form and ready for Lester in 2 weeks time, this in the middle of moving house, the terrible victimisation of the contracting professional by his main client and the fact that I had to deal with burnt toast today, Ohhh the terrible life I lead, the sufferance, the misery, and only 3 full means a day (pitiful snivelling), Ok that’s over!

I am sitting happily at work and just stretch my shoulders, my clothes feel funny on my right shoulder, I put my hand in and feel around (or..er..missis) and found a load of white paste covering my shoulder blade, in quite a bit of worry I grab a load of it and pull it out for examination, what could it be, its white with a blue and red stripe, surely not!!, I give a sniff and against all common sense a lick (most of my work colleges are starting to look a bit green at this point, there’s no dough of it, its tooth paste, now the million dollar question WHERE DID IT COME FROM!!, I’ve checked my shirt, my rucksack and when I got back to the flat I checked my bed and the bathroom for hidden tooth paste sprayers with out success, all my toothpaste was there (it was not hard , its not like I horde it or anything), I tried talking to the toothpaste its self, demanding of it the location of it hijacking confederates (it was at this point that my flat mate stopped helping me, and locked himself in his room), but it must have been specially trained as I did not get a word out of  it (damn inscrutable devil!) so I am putting it down as one of those insolvable mysteries such as why I can’t do flick hits. Ah…we return to fencing with a thump. I have joined haverstock traitor!!!) and its fun, there are people there who can beat the hell out of me which is what I am after, and I have had my first lesson with Marek, there is a gentleman with a lot of voice, I had been warned to expect hell in his lesson and indeed it was hell (at least it was a dry heat) but at the same time very satisfying, what I most want in a coach is for them not to give up on me when I cock things up. to bear with me while I get it right (both Steve and Jo are like this thought in very different ways.) Alex is also a very good coach and is nearly as patent as Steve, (does anybody
dare me to do comparisons of the coaches and risk being exiled to outer Mongolia). but the hall that haverstock “do their do” in really good, carpeted with enough room for about 8-10 boxes as well as a set of low steps to put your bags on, there is a stage that the coaches do their lessons on which means that you can tell at a glance if they are waiting for you, the rest of the facilities are OK, apart from the showers that although nice and hot and powerful enough, look as is they are designed for gang rape, I have started showering with my back to the wall even when their is no one in there. Back to Bristol, its on Saturday and I am in the female foil and sabre hall and
I can here this terrible noise, has anybody seem the Jane fonda file “Barbarela” well the black queen has these guards and when ever they appear their is this deathly scream, and I tell you its was exactly that noise, I almost ended up hiding behind the door, personally all foilist and people who do sabre should be locked up in a dark place.

(10/09/04) Well lots of updates for you to play with this time, rants

here I sit at the first comp of the season, and am sick to my guts with my body
evacuating every thing via one hole at speed and seriously considering using
another hole as way to relieve to congestion, luckily it is not epee day, its
when the whippy stick people are out, and although I entered for it, I was
advised not to take part so, I have 24 hours to get a grip, although in my
present state I would win tons of fights as no-one would let their nice white
kit near me (the cleaning bill would be terrible).

It is now after the epee day and I have done pants (last 64), I am an
embarrassment to my coaches, the pool was pants (3 up, 3 down) {did not have
the normal warm up session with Ben Measures}, and was only memorable in the
amount of embarrassment I suffered due to my habit of fighting at any club that
will have me, this meant that my pool had, out of a total 7 clubs represented 4
clubs I am a member of, so I got told off my 3 other people who are team mates,
for being in the same pool as them (the unfortunate fact that these 3 were the
people that I beat did not help matters), happily made it through the 128, and
then comes the 64, I was against the comp No 1 seed (some lad who was having a
very good day {he had beat Mr Cadman in his pool, but as was proved by his
victory in the final, beating Mr Cadman in a pool and knocking Mr Cadman out of
the comp are very very different things [one day in my dreams i hope to be good
enough to actually have a good fight with Mr Cardman]}), and I was 6-2 down at
the end of the first period, at which point Chris Howser came up to me (which
was rare as I don’t like being talked to during a fight, and anyway Jo Maynard
is my official coach) but I have to say I liked his comment (coaches usually
say nice constructive/helpful things) which was “your fighting like a fucking
muppet, rocking back and forward, get a grip and fight properly”, now I know
Chris is not like that normally with fighters he coaches, but it only shows how
he is coming on as a coach that he adapts to individually people rather that
using the same rote on them all. OK, so I think, this bloke is beating you,
just do as you are told and get a grip, so i return to the mealie holding
nothing back and thundering in and out, suddenly its next break and I’m 13-9 up
and what happens!, what HAPPENS!!!, I just run out of energy, it was like some
bugger had pulled the plug, I go all floppy and the bloke just takes me to bits
(all credit to him), and it ends 15-13 to him, F***!!!!, ah well never mind,
never mind!!! NEVER MIND!!, bugger that, I am cross as a ferret in a privet
bush (that is being hit with a stick), and I have to explain my failure to
Steve Paul with my tail between my legs.
there is however a prize to be given, it is a joint prize of sense of humour
and observation and it goes to Hugo from haverstock, how upon seeing me with a
camera actually posses properly and maintains the pose while both his opponent
and the judge look on in confusion, waiting for me to take the photo and
unaware that I was doing a movie (the pose was so good that I put it at the
beginning of the Essex movie).

As we all know the different fencing styles suit different personality types,
but how do you spot this in a small child so that they don’t waste time with a
weapon they won’t enjoy, thankfully this question has been answered in the case
of my son, I will explain, here is family Stickfight out on in sunny Boston in
the centre of town, finding a place to park, this we do in a none multi story
pay and display near the shops, I nip out to get the ticket and return to find
my whole family sticking their tongues out at me from inside the car, in the
situation, I did the only thing possible which was to put the ticket between my
teeth, turn round, drop my trousers and shorts and moon my unruly clan. had my
son been of the sabre persuasion he would have mooned me straight back, if he
was a born epeeist he would have got out and attempted to kick me, but Nooo!!!,
he says “Eurgh! he’s got the ticket in his mouth”, I morosely pull my trousers
back up and get into the car,

“whats up?” my wife says,

“Our son” I answer,

“what?” she replies,

“Foil!!” I say,

She turns to me in horror, “surely not??!?!” I nod mutely and hang my head. sweetness puts on a brave face “maybe he will grow out of it”, I sigh “we can only hope.

I am badgering 42 for another update but he’s having a blank spot, so we will
all just have to wait (sigh!!)

I have a load of other rants but I wanted to get the media up for Friday so
people could download it over the weekend, will up date the rants this weekend