Boldly going where no 76 year old has gone before

William Shatner was interviewed by the Sunday Times for it’s In Gear section and in typical fashion it’s mostly about cars, but don’t let that put you off if you’re not a motorhead. He talks about his marriages, his future flight into space in a Virgin Galactic Shuttle (not looking forward to it), horse riding, and his hopes for good health which must play on the mind of an active 76 year old.

To lift the mood I ask what dreams Shatner still wants to fulfil. “Not to get sick,” he says. “I’m so healthy and I feel so strong and I jump up on a horse and I drive fast cars. And I’m thinking this has got to end soon, and I don’t want it to end. That’s my biggest dream.”

While on the subject of high achieving 35 year old septuagenarians, I want to congratulate my mother-in-law, Philomena Burns for winning “The James Stack Memorial Perpetual Trophy” and a gold medal in this year’s Feis Maitiu poetry and recital competition in Cork. She is of course delighted and we’re very proud of her! I hope to update this post with a photo of her and her trophy and medal next week.

Donncha vs the taxman vs the postman

How are you supposed to do business in Ireland when tax forms don’t come on time? Here’s a snippet from a form P30 I got from Revenue this morning.

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A form that should be filled out before February 14th arrived on March 30th. A form that warns that there may be penalties for late payment. Sheesh. Oh, and it arrived opened. Not the first time that happened either.

This morning I finally paid my motor tax. Instead of getting the nice simple online registration form and pin number I got a “final reminder” sometime in February warning that the police would be called if the tax wasn’t paid within ten days. I didn’t and they weren’t. I called the garage instead who sent me a form to get another vehicle registration form, which I already have. I have two of them now, one must go back.

We know for a fact that mail has been lost. A letter that Jacinta was expecting last year vanished without a trace. Maybe it’s in some sorting office somewhere stuck behind a bin.

An Post need to get their act together and stop losing mail and delivering late.

Edit: oh, and next time you buy a second hand car you’ll have to pay the motor tax for the time the car was in the garage. You’re not supposed to, but it’s happened to me on my last two cars. I’ve had to pay for the month previous to purchasing the car because the tax just happened to run out before I bought it. The garage is supposed to register the car as off the road but that obviously doesn’t work.

Edit: It’s April 4th. I just received a tax assasement from Revenue dated January 10th. It had no address on the form, but someone had hand written the address on a slip of paper which was stapled to that form. We got an awful shock until we realised the issue date because we’ve sent Revenue big fat cheques since January. gulp!

WordPress MU 1.2

Go grab the new WordPress MU 1.2 from the download page now. This is primarily a bugfix update but it also has a security fix and all WPMU site owners are encouraged to upgrade.

I’ll post to the MU forums in a few days time with details of the security fix. It’s a short one-liner that can be applied within minutes if you can’t upgrade.

Update: After you update, go to “Site Admin->Themes” and click Save. That will update the allowed themes list because it was changed a few days ago.

Edit: a few issues with themes and .htaccess rewrite problem appeared overnight. These have been fixed now. If you updated to 1.2 then download the new 1.2.1 version and copy these files into your install:

  • wp-admin/themes.php
  • htaccess.dist
  • wp-includes/version.php
  • wp-admin/admin-db.php
  • wp-admin/themes.php
  • wp-admin/wpmu-themes.php

Is this living?

Is this living?

I spotted this on a large advertising hoarding on the Western Road in Cork this afternoon and snapped it to remind myself to look it up. It’s right by UCC and in the perfect spot to attract the attention of webs savvy students. URLs on hoardings are like honey to a bee with me. I will snap off a few shots of the sign as a reminder and visit later. When I did visit thisisliving.ie I was presented with the following page.

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I have to ask, if I’m visiting thisisliving.ie what country do you think I’m in?

After selecting Ireland and hitting “Enter” I was brought into a nice animation of a resort or hotel which built up and zoomed away again, and then repeated with another 2 locations before being brought to a hotel reception. I signed in and clicked around for about 5 minutes before getting bored of all the loading. It reminded me of the days spent loading C64 games from datasette. At least then I had the cool Ocean or Thalamus loading music to entertain me..

The copyright notice at the bottom of page identifies “Sony Computer” and a quick search took me to this post which has the following tv ad for the Playstation 3. Apparently this advertising campaign has been running all over Europe since January. I’m sure I would have come across a games console somewhere if I had persisted!

Game footage in the above trailer does look pretty. Anyone bought a PS3 yet? Someone told me they’re going for about €600 or so. That correct? You could buy a reasonably specced “home PC” for that much! Supposedly Ireland has a less than healthy obsession with everything Playstation so I’m sure they’re selling like hotcakes!

Stargate SG1 dies with barely a whimper

So SG1 has finally gone the way of the Dodo. The final episode was a huge disappointment although I suppose it did take us into the heads and personal lives of some of the characters in an unusual way. Still, it’s not a soap opera, I’d watch Emmerdale or Cornation Street if I wanted personal conflict and relationships.

The last episode of the current series of Stargate Atlantis on the other hand was literally “out of this world!” If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a great ending.

I thought the final season of SG1 was so very disappointing. It felt like the plot had lost it’s way, that they were meandering through the series until the very end. It was easy viewing. I built up quite a collection of Stargate episodes on my Sky+ box as well as Battlestar Galactica, 24 and Lost. The two Stargate series were always the first to be watched because I knew they wouldn’t strain my tired brain too much.

For fans like myself who haven’t seen the early years of Stargate, earlier episodes are being repeated on Sky Two throughout the week. I watched The Broca Divide the other night and it was strange to see the much younger looking members of SG1 do their stuff! Richard Dean Anderson was great playing a deranged out-of-his-mind crazy guy!

This leads me on to the question, is there any proper way of ending a long running television series? How did MacGyver end? The last I watched of the series it was getting all environmental and boring. Less gadgets and MacGyver magic and more talking if memory serves. Is every successful franchise doomed to disappoint?

The red nosed Clarkson

The Internet is a great place to be. One moment you’re surfing through high quality blogs and the next you’re watching The Top Gear Band trying to play a Billy Ocean song for Red Nose Day in the UK last Friday.

Actually, I read Jeremy’s article in the Sunday Times and went looking for it so I had no excuse. I’m still amazed at how quickly these things make it online. I hope I don’t lose that wonder and become blase about this whole world-wide communications tool at our finger tips. Oh look! an email thingy. I should print that out and read it!

Did you see the last Top Gear of the season? Wasn’t it mad driving those “limos” through the heart of London? Looking forward to the Summer season! Oh look, there are clips of that too. It looks like the Billie Piper interview is in there somewhere too.

Simply because it’s unusual to get so many egos into one small room, here’s Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and others doing a sketch for Africa via Blogorrah. It’s a great laugh too.

Go out and buy the DVD when it’s available. It’s all for charity!

Shutdown Ubuntu with ctrl-alt-delete

Power cuts are becoming a way of life for many people and here in Blarney we get our fair share of them unfortunately. The second in as many weeks happened this morning and before I could rig up a network cable between my laptop and desktop the UPS powered down and my big noisy desktop died with it. Thankfully without filesystem corruption.

Normally when you press the magic combo of ctrl-alt-delete the machine reboots but in this case it would be much better if the machine did a shutdown. In previous versions of Linux I had to edit /etc/inittab to get the desired effect but that file doesn’t exist in Ubuntu Edgy. Instead you must look at /etc/event.d/control-alt-delete. That file is fairly self explanatory which is all well and good because there’s very little information if you don’t know what to look for.

According to a post here, “Ubuntu replaced init with upstart event daemon”. It’s simple to change it to shutodown. Replace “-r” with “-h” in the following line:
exec /sbin/shutdown/ -r now "Control-Alt-Delete pressed"
No need to run inittab, just hit the magic combo to halt the computer!

PS. thanks so much for all the comments yesterday and the day before. I was bowled over by the response to both posts, especially the Daffodil Day one which struck a chord with many people

A free daffodil for your blog today

Today is Daffodil Day here in Ireland and in honour of the day I’m offering a daffodil header image to any blogger who’d like it. There are no restrictions on how you use this image, do what you like, but I would love if you would blog about Daffodil Day.

I’ve made two header images especially suited to blogs using the K2 theme. These are 780×200 images, and to make things easier there’s a mirrored image to suit your blog title. Larger sizes are available on request.

Daffodil Day is in aid of cancer research. The Irish Cancer Society does what it can to fund raise for cancer research and care so they’re a good charity to support.

Daffodil Day is the largest annual fundraising event run by the Irish Cancer Society to raise money for people with cancer.

This year our Daffodil Day is on March 23rd, and over 5,000 volunteers nationwide will be helping to sell fresh and silk daffodils and daffodil pins.

If you would like to help out during Daffodil Day, just phone us on 1 850 60 60 60 or Email reception@irishcancer.ie

Daffodils are flowers of hope and of springtime. That is why they are such an appropriate symbol for the Irish Cancer Society’s cancer care projects. These projects help to improve the quality of care available to people with cancer throughout Ireland.

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I have to admit their linking policy is a little strange. I never thought I’d have to ask permission by fax to link to a website.

Slightly later … we bought our daffodils while doing a spot of shopping in Blarney. Here’s the very nice volunteer and her springer spaniel who were manning the stall outside Supervalu. A bunch of daffodils or a pin are 3 Euro each. A small contribution to cancer research.

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Updated a year later in 2008! Daffodil Day is next Friday. I’m offering a beautiful daffodils photo for sale in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. See my blog post for further details!

My £30 Adwords Temptation

google adwords voucher

I’m a sucker for vouchers, if they’ll really save me money that is. I generally read the small print just in case I have to “subscribe for 12 months to take advantage of this deal” and it’s a good thing I read the ones attached to this offer from Google. They’ll give me a £30 Google Adwords voucher to try out Adwords, but according to the terms and conditions written in dark grey on light grey below the main body of the email:

The promotional credit will be automatically credited to your new Google Adwords account once you have entered your promotional code and billing preferences. If you choose the post-pay payment method, the account activation fee (currently £5) will be deducted from the promotional credit before this is credited to your account. If you choose the pre-pay payment method, you must make an initial minimum payment (from which the account activation fee will be deducted) to activate the account before the promotional credit can be credited to your account. You will be charged for any advertising charges that exceed the promotional credit, and you are solely responsible for the payment of any taxes incurred.

Still, if I was interested in advertising my blog I’d go for it. I may yet advertise one of my other sites as I have a few months to redeem the voucher. They’ll have me hooked then! Damn you Google! (Raises fist to air in theatrical fashion and shakes it in anger at the burning sun)