by Karl Bunyan

Programming, PHP, JavaScript, .Net, motorbikes, pubs, poker, football, news, restaurants and anything else


Friday, September 30, 2005

DomDocument::loadXml not throwing exceptions in PHP

For some reason, Zend have decided not to make PHP throw an exception when you try and load invalid XML into a DomDocument object. This includes XML with invalid characters e.g. &. This means wrapping a try/catch around anything does absolutely no good whatsoever, which is annoying.

Is there a good way of trapping runtime errors using loadXml with the DomDocument library?

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Thursday, September 29, 2005


Recently a "Husband Super Store" opened where women could go to choose a husband from among many men. It was laid out over five floors, with the men increasing in positive attributes as you ascended.

The only rule was, once you opened the door to any floor, you HAD to choose a man from that floor; if you went up a floor, you couldn't go back down except to leave the place, never to return.

A couple of girlfriends went to the shopping centre to find some husbands...

First floor

The door had a sign saying, "These men have jobs and love kids." The women read the sign and said, "Well, that's better than not having a job or not loving kids, but I wonder what's further up?" So up they went.

Second floor

The sign read, "These men have high paying jobs, love kids, and are extremely good looking." "Hmmm," said the ladies, "But, I wonder what's further up?"

Third floor

This sign read, "These men have high paying jobs, are extremely good looking, love kids and help with the housework." "Wow," said the women, "Very tempting." But there was another floor, so further up they went. "

Fourth floor

This door had a sign saying "These men have high paying jobs, love kids, are extremely good looking, help with the housework and have a strong romantic streak." "Oh, mercy me," they cried, "Just think what must be awaiting us further on! "

So up to the fifth floor they went.

Fifth floor

The sign on that door said, "This floor is empty and exists only to prove that women are impossible to please. The exit is to your left. "

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Telegraph fantasy football password

The Telegraph Fantasy Football password isn't exactly difficult to find on the internet, but that doesn't stop me posting it here anyway. For September 28th it's SAVE.

Best of luck.

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Leyton 2-1 Torquay

Leyton 2-1 Torquay

Leyton played superbly against Torquay last night for a well-deserved 3 points at home. There didn't appear to be a weak link in the team, with the recently back Ibehre providing some dynamism that to-date had only been provided by Echanomi but with much more discipline. His goal was the result of an excellent move between himself and Tudor and he should have had at least another one in the second half.

Alexander also seems on good from after breaking his goal drought and got the first last night and also played a part in quite a few key plays.

This leaves Orient fourth in the table and only 3 points behind leaders Grimsby ("The Carling Cup Spurs Killers") who they play in just under a month's time.

BBC SPORT | Football | League Two | Leyton Orient 2-1 Torquay

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

PHP aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh

Things I hate about PHP No. 512 (notwithstanding the fact that in comparison to many other things I like PHP):

Inconsistency in parameter ordering

Say I want to find a small thing in a big thing, like a piece of a string in a bigger string. I can use strpos and you pass in the string you're looking in first, and the string you want to find second. So strpos("PHP aaaarrrgggh","PHP") returns 0 (or false, unless you're using ===, but I'm sure that's been ranted about enough).

But if I want to find, for example, a key in an array I pass in the key I'm looking for first and the thing to look in second. So I have to remember the exact syntax of every single miniscule stupid little command and which order to pass parameters in because there's absolutely no consistency.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

iPod giganto - Apple thinks different

A sneak look at the new iPod that Apple will be bringing out soon: Bore Me - iPod giganto - Apple thinks different

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Anything to watch the footie

Gambian football fans must be dedicated - they managed to fake a fuel emergency on a plane to get it to land at a different airport so they could get to a match on time.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Football fans fake air emergency

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Telegraph Fantasy Football password

For all those waiting to see if the Carling Cup produced any injuries last night, here's this week's Telegraph Fantasy Football Password. Personally, I wish I'd waited to see how poor Spurs were before transferring Defoe in. My team also did pretty poorly last week, not helped by another rack of injuries and a general unwillingness from any of my strikers or midfielders to get anywhere near the goal.

For the week of September 21st the password is RAIN.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Walthamstow Dog Track

Walthamstow Dog Track

I went to Walthamstow Dog Track on Thursday evening. There are rumours it may be turned into a housing estate (as if there aren't enough of them) so we've got to make some effort at keeping it going. The 6-pack deal gives you a scampi (or chicken) and chips, two £1 bets, and 2 drinks (lager, bitter or soft drink. 50p extra if you want Kronenberg instead of Carlsberg). I definitely made a net contribution to their coffers, if only by adding a few pounds. The only winning strategy in our group was to bet on dog 1 in the first race, 2 in the second, 3 in the third etc... right until back to 1 again. I won three times (out of about a dozen bets) but both times were when I had a dog to place (come first or second) when it won, so I would probably have broken even had I made the right bet. Ah well, there was only about a pound in it anyway.

The dog racing is really good fun, though, although the scampi and chips isn't exactly the most nutritional meal money can buy. I'll be back again in a couple of weeks time, though, to put another few pounds into the tote's tills.

Walthamstow Dog Track

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

888.com unveils float price range

888, which owns Pacific Poker, is planning to float on the stock market, probably following the succes that Party Poker's owners (Partygaming) have had. They've set a price which values the company at between £546.1m and £714.6m, although there are rumours that it's cut its valuation following Partygaming's profit warning.

For anyone looking to invest in them, I've pretty much cashed out, taking out $400 of the $530-odd I have in there (pure profit, at least), and have gotten tired of playing the really awful players that seem to frequent there. It was just becoming too random (being called all-in with a pair of queens and having half a dozen king- or ace-rag callers limping in, and then being beaten by someone calling with 10-3 suited making two pair or some such rubbish). I think I'm sticking to Party Poker from now on, except for perhaps the odd venture with my last $100 at Pacific.

Anyway, 888 are now worth $400 less than they were yesterday so I hope they've taken that into account in the valuation.

BBC NEWS | Business | 888 unveils float price range

Pacific Poker

Party Poker

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International Talk Like A Pirate day

It has been pointed out to me that September 19th is "International Talk Like A Pirate day"

The Talk Like A Pirate website

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Sun's censored server ads

These are the ads that Sun didn't run with. I think my favourite is "Benchmarks prove that Dell sucks".

Sun's server ads

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Telegraph Fantasy Football password

The password for this week doesn't seem very appropriate since most people will have had their holiday's by now. Anyway, for the week of September 14th it's HOLIDAY.

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Thanks for posting the password, much appreciated.


posted by Anonymous Barny Baker : September 16, 2005 1:44 PM

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Honda comparison: CBR 600 vs Deuville vs VFR 800 vs Blackbird 1100

It may seem strange to compare a CBR 600 (small sports bike), a Deuville (small tourer), VFR 800 (sports tourer) and Blackbird 1100 (sports tourer) as they're all quite different bikes. From the small and nimble CBR 600 to the big, super-fast Blackbird, and then the Deuville with its low revving, plodding engine. They do all have something in common from my point of view, however, and this must be something that makes Honda motorbikes so popular: you can go away for a weekend and take a pillion on each one. So, what are the differences?


Starting with the obvious: the 1100 is very fast with one or two people on it, the VFR is not quite so fast, and the 600 is still fast with one person and surprisingly good with two up. The Deuville lags a long way behind here; even with its 650cc engine it struggles to get past 100mph. The CBR 600 is the bike that gives you a real feeling of riding a racing bike, with its high revving engine, but the Blackbird is the only bike where you don't notice the weight of a passenger. Add luggage and the difference in 5th or 6th gear is noticeable on the 600, although it's still got a very decent pull in lower gears. The three sportier bikes are all quite fast enough even loaded down, although on the 600 you'll end up having to work the gears a bit harder (a riding style which I personally enjoy). Out of the four bikes, the Deuville is the only one where you won't be passing traffic with impunity.


All four bikes are actually quite comfortable but over time the differences are magnified. As might be expected, the Deuville is very comfortable both for rider and passenger. A five hour journey in a day isn't exactly a ride in the park, but it won't leave you crippled the next day. The Blackbird is pretty much equal and has a good faring which keeps the wind off and neck strain down. The CBR 600 comes in last place with its small faring, slightly more hunched riding position and, most noticeably over a long distance, the high revving engine: my arms were still vibrating for half an hour after a 180 mile journey. Still, it's quite impressive to be able to do this distance (with a short stop of two) on a small sports bike. I think I would consider 3 hours in the saddle to be the limit of the 600, though, whereas the Deuville can give you another hour or two more; in these cases, boredom is more likely to be an issue than cramp.

Although the VFR 800 is a comfortable bike for the rider, my passenger didn't find the grab rail (that doesn't go all the way round the back) to be optimal, resulting in holding on too tightly and getting extra tired. This combined with the slightly more upright riding position make holding on more of a chore than on any of the other bikes, including even the power-pulling Blackbird. The good thing about all the Hondas, from a pillion's point of view, is that the seat is one piece and just as comfortable as the rider's.


The biggest issue with the CBR 600 is its range: only around 120 miles in the tank. The Deuville and the VFR go a bit further (around 150) and the Blackbird even further at around 170. (This is all with two passengers and luggage.) The difference may not seem big, but the small (20 odd mile) reserve tank on the CBR means that where the petrol is going to come from is always on your mind; at 100 miles, it's time to look for somewhere to refuel, whereas on the Blackbird you don't have to think about it for another 50 miles or so. The VFR provides the most help here with a real fuel gauge rather than just a reserve indicator.


The other thing that makes all these Hondas good all-rounders, despite their speed differences, is the lower exhaust pipes which allow soft luggage to be slung over them. With a tank bag too it's easy enough to pack away a weekend's worth of luggage. The Deuville has built-in side-pods which, although not as big as full panniers, are fairly handy for stashing gear once you reach your destination. With a top-box there's enough space for a full week away. For this, the Deuville wins hands down here. There's no real difference between the other three bikes as soft panniers can be hooked on without interfering too much with the pillion pegs or the exhaust pipe (something that rules out an R6, R1 or GSXR for me).


I know I've done speed once already, but it's such a good reason for riding a bike. The CBR 600 can still reach 140mp in 5th gear with a pillion, which is pretty impressive, and the VFR and Blackbird more of the same. On a Blackbird you'll hardly notice the extra weight which is a good feeling.


For me, the 600 wins outright here. I like the riding position and it's very reactive. Great for darting in and out of traffic (just watch out for the panniers, and your passenger's knees). The bike also feels light when stationery, but then it is a lot lighter than the other two.

Close behind in handling is the Blackbird. The other three bikes actually all weigh a similar amount but the 1100 feels the lightest. The VFR always felt quite top-heavy to me, and the Deuville sometimes feels like a tank. With both the Blackbird and the VFR I never felt quite as sure of the front wheel as with the 600. The Blackbird is still very solid, however, and even feels light moving through the traffic.

The Deuville, on the other hand, feels like a tank. There's no escaping it.


For a weekend away: a 150 mile journey to get there and them so riding around country roads. I'd go for a CBR 600. It's comfortable enough for that distance, you can take some luggage, and then it's great fun on the open roads.

A week away: a 250 mile journey and then open roads would tip the balance in favour of the Blackbird. Even more so if you're planning a longer journey with stop-overs. The extra faring and lower revs make the long distance much easier.

Are there any circumstances in which I'd choose the Deuville or the VFR? For me, no. The VFR doesn't seem distinctive enough and I didn't enjoy the ride as much, whereas the Deuville just wasn't exciting enough to ride. The main advantage is the built-in side-pods so you don't have to carry your gear everywhere, but hard luggage on any of the bikes would fix that. They're all good bikes in a lot of ways but it's between the two CBRs for me and down to how far you've got to ride and where you like to be on the power/manouverability scale.

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Have u though about a big trailee? I have a Deauville (v handy and reliable runaround, even went to Ireland on it) but after riding my new Aprillia Caponord I reckon the Deauville's not going to see much open road any more. Luggage is much wider which is the biggest adv i think for the D. However the Caponord has a very comfortable (i'm 6'3') upright riding style and is great over the speed bumps...

posted by Anonymous Anonymous : April 25, 2006 8:02 AM

This comparison was all that I needed to pick the right bike... The VRF was on sale complete with the luggage kit (bags and top box)

I took the Blackbird

Will get it delivered in April 2007

Thanks/Göran In Sweden

posted by Anonymous Anonymous : March 03, 2007 9:48 AM

I've owned my CBR600 for several years now and have done several long trips including twice doing 2,000 miles in 5 days(with a 3 day break in the middle). Although it can handle the distance, I'm looking at a VFR 800 do these trips again but with a bit more comfort. Your comments are a great "real" comparison not just a magazine's biased version.

Thanks/John in Australia

posted by Anonymous Anonymous : May 03, 2007 3:44 AM

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Led Zeppelin DVD review

Led Zeppelin DVD I've just bought the Led Zeppelin DVD and what a great purchase it is. For around £15 from Virgin Megastore it has 5 hours of footage on two DVD's - good value, for a start, and it comes in a decent box with a couple of colour brochures (albeit only a few pages each).

The first DVD mostly contains footage from their concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970. Both are excellent quality and are made up of professional quality footage as well as clips gathered from various bootlegs in the audience. Considering how old the sound and video must be they're both really good quality. The second DVD is from Earls Court in 1975 and Knebworth in 1979 and contains quite a few tracks from Physical Graffiti. The acoustic set of "Going To California", "That's The Way" and "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" show the low-volume side of Zeppelin which non fans probably aren't aware of. From Knebworth, "In my time of dying" and "Trampled Underfoot" are both really good, and even "Kashmir" translated better to a live setting that I would have expected. "Stairway to Heaven" is particularly good with an extended 12 string guitar solo. The finaled of "Whole Lotta Love" shows how the band can improvise a new direction and they end up in a funked up riff based around the song's base chords.

Apart from the core live material from these three concerts there are a number of other clips from the rare TV appearances that Led Zeppelin made, but these are really just the extra's for the DVD. It's the concerts that really make this and for anyone with any interest in Led Zeppelin this is a must.

Disc One

  • We're Gonna Groove
  • I Can't Quit You Baby
  • Dazed And Confused
  • White Summer
  • What Is And What Should Never Be
  • How Many More Times
  • Moby Dick
  • Whole Lotta Love
  • Communication Breakdown
  • C'mon Everybody
  • Something Else
  • Bring It On Home

Disc One

  • Immigrant Song
  • Black Dog
  • Misty Mountain Hop
  • Since I've Been Loving You
  • The Ocean
  • Going To California
  • That's The Way
  • Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
  • In My Time Of Dying
  • Trampled Underfoot
  • Stairway To Heaven
  • Rock And Roll
  • Nobody's Fault But Mine
  • Sick Again
  • Achilles Last Stand
  • In The Evening
  • Kashmir
  • Whole Lotta Love

The Led Zeppelin site

Reviews of the DVD

Buy the Led Zeppelin DVD on Amazon

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Loads of free BBC video clips

The BBC (and others) have started the Creative Archive Licence Group which is providing a whole load of video and sound clips for free download and use in non-commercial projects. Could be useful for something.

Creative Archive Licence Group

BBC video clip download archive

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Opacity in Firefox, Safari and IE

Internet Explorer has suppored opacity for a long time but it's also possible to change the opacity of a layer in Safari, and both newer and older versions of Mozilla (including Firefox).

The code for setting the opacity of a layer to 50% (in JavaScript) is:

  • For IE/Win: layer.style.filter = "alpha(opacity:50)";
  • For Safari (pre version 1.2), Konqueror: layer.style.KHTMLOpacity = .5;
  • For older versions of Mozilla and Firefox: layer.style.MozOpacity = .5;
  • For Safari 1.2, newer Firefox and Mozilla using CSS3: layer.style.opacity = .5;

The main difference now between IE and the other browsers is that in IE opacity is specified as 0 to 100 whereas in Firefox and Safari it is a decimal from 0 to 1.

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Thanks Karl, this is the solution I was looking for. I am working within the DOM via Javascript, and I was trying to create a fade effect that worked in IE, Safari, Firefox on the PC and MAC. and this was it! The key being to define them in the exact order you have them written in... I was trying to do IE last, but it must be done first.

Take care.

posted by Anonymous .w.e.s : October 22, 2008 3:14 AM

very helpful, thanks a lot.

posted by Anonymous Anonymous : November 25, 2008 10:20 PM

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Telegraph Fantasy Football password

Another week, another fantasy football password. Although there were no Premiership matches over the past week, I imagine some people will wait to make transfers until they're sure that there are no injuries in any of the international matches. For September 7th it's OVER.

Telegraph Fantasy Football log-in

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Leyton Orient 2-3 Bristol Rovers

Leyton Orient vs Bristol Rover

A pretty dismal performance from Orient. For a change, the midfield played worse than the strikers, with Steele playing quite well from deep and Alexander getting his first goal (at the right end of the pitch) this season.

Tudor only came on as a substitute and made some difference, and Easton had a generally good game. Other than that it was not worth watching. Efe came on as a substitute and although his pace added life to the game but his ball selection is abysmal and he passed up an excellent chance to put Alexander through by selfishly taking the shot on himself. That sort of play isn't going to help his case for a more regular slot. At that point Orient were only trailing 2-1 and could genuinely have been right back in it.

The first Rovers goal was too good, though, from the moment the move started. Orient never produced anything like it the whole game, or the whole season that I've seen. The number 9 striker was good for the whole game and although both his goals were soft (a penalty and one on one with the keeper) a player like that would fit really well into Leyton's side. If only Rovers would sell him...

As has been too common, defensive errors were responsible for the other two goals. The penalty was so obvious, and the position certainly didn't warrant giving it away as the striker was faced with a difficult cut-back. The third goal showed our defence's lack of pace and strength but shouldn't have happened at any professional level.

It's good to see Alexander get on the scoresheet at last, but Orient are really going to have to start scoring a lot more goals to have any hope of promotion this year.

BBC SPORT | Football | League Two | Leyton Orient 2-3 Bristol Rovers

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Review of 'Harrington on Hold'em, Volume 1' by Dan Harrington

I've just finished Dan Harrington's book on Texas Hold 'em, called "Harrington on Hold 'em". It's actually the first poker book I've read, although I've been playing almost entirely online for a few months now. For anyone who doesn't know, Dan Harrington is a very succesful poker player with a reputation for very tight, solid play. Although not being one of the games agressors, he has had a lot of success having reach a number of World Series of Poker final tables. I've seen him play on television a few times now and, although we only get the highlights televised, he's also quite capable of making a move if he senses weakness in an opponent. You don't get to be that succesful in poker just by playing the cards you're dealt and there's obviously a reason why some players make it to final tables more than others.

Harrington's book focuses on no-limit tournament Hold 'em play, which is my favoured game (as opposed to cash games, limit or pot-limit), and certainly appears biased to a level just above beginner (i.e. someone who knows how to rank hands and has some idea of what makes a good starting hand), and the fact he talks about online play quite often makes this quite a targetted book. It makes sense to market a book like this at the sector that so many amateur players are joining. The format of the book is to take different stages of the game and different betting concepts (good hand/early position, late position facing an early raiser etc) and to examine the possible pitfalls, upsides and pot odds. (Pot odds are a key factor in most of the decisions made.) Following each chapter there are many good examples that give real world examples plus an explanation of what the 'best' play would be (where there is an obvious best play).

Although I haven't been playing very long, I've found it fairly easy to make money at low entry fee tournament games. Reading the book, I found that a lot of the points Dan makes are quite familiar from experience. The game Dan plays (more often than not) is quite tight, meaning he will bet only on good hands, and that is the style of play he recommends throughout this book. Honestly, I think that by adopting everything he says (and understanding the meaning since, after all, poker can't be played easily by rules) anyone could easily become a better than average online player. This is merely because the quality of online players is often poor. Since it seems to be at this market that the book is aimed (the hobbiest who would like to make a bit of cash on the side) the conservative style is perfect, especially for playing against weaker players who will not understand many of the game's subtleties.

I already had quite a tight style, especially compared to many of the players I meet online. Knowing not to call a big raise on a full table with Ace 5 seems obvious to me, but apparently not to many other people. I was hoping to get something more out of this book, some more insights into some of the 'moves' a professional might make. Although there weren't a huge number of these here, there was more than enough to make me feel that I got more than enough value out of this book. For most of us online players, the only experience we get of 'real' play is through televised tournaments. It's easy to assume from these that check-raising with top pair is normal, and then to mis-play it early in a tournament, as is going all-in with an 8 5 off suit bluff. Dan makes the point that much of a poker tournament is grind, and it's good to have some of the television myths dispelled by someone who's been there.

Especially useful for me was a chapter on table image. A key point here being that other players judge you on the cards they see, not necessarily just the cards you play. I hadn't really thought about this (although, now, it seems obvious) but, as someone with a tight game, I would often play cards like Ace Q and, if top pair hit, bet it heavily enough for the other players to fold and take the pot there and then. If it happens that you get a hand like this two or three times in half a dozen rounds, it doesn't matter how good your hand is if no-one sees it then they start to assume you're bluffing. I've found keeping a track of how I think other players perceive me as a way of stopping from losing money and also for winning a few hands: fold on the flop a few times, and the next time you bet everyone's more likely to believe you have something when you steal with a check raise. Exactly the way Dan would play... (okay, I'm flattering myself now).

All-in-all, this is a useful book for anyone who believes they've stepped up from the beginning levels of poker. If you're playing in a tournament with a few quid at stake each day then it won't be long before this book pays for itself; it's certainly done it for me many times over. The lessons in it suit anything above absolute rock-bottom (5 dollar) tournament play. (At that level decisions are too random, and bad beats too common to realistically apply some of the more advanced concepts of table image, gap theory etc.) I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Volume 2 where the latter stages of tournament play are covered.

This is a book with a lot of information that's also very easy to read. It'll take time to absorb all the lessons in there but I know my copy has already paid for itself and you can't ask for more than that.

Information on Dan Harrington

Another review of "Harrington on Hold'em: Volume 1"

Buy "Harrington on Hold 'em: Volume 1" on Amazon

Buy "Harrington on Hold 'em: Volume 2" on Amazon

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Nasa rover reaches top of hill

Spirit's view of Mars

After a 14 month climb, Nasa's Spirit rover has reached the top of a hill it was climbing and sent back a photo. Unfortunately, the photo looks just like every other photo of Mars I've seen: dry, dusty and rocky. Okay, it's in colour where the Viking one's weren't, but a bit of Photoshop could have fixed that.

Large image of the Martian landscape

Full story on the BBC site

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Who's more skill?

I thought I would finally settle the question of "Who's more skill" between myself and my business partner Darren Beale (co-director of Exponetic) with a Googlefight. Initial results were promising: 'karl bunyan skill' vs 'darren beale skill' gives me 12,700 results and Darren only 5,920, making me nearly twice as skill. However, putting quotes around the names changes the story. '"karl bunyan" skill vs "darren beale"' skill gives me only 98 results whereas Darren has 310. This is over three times as skill, although the smaller sample size does make this result somewhat suspect to my unbiased mind

It looks like the debate will have to rage on.


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posted by Anonymous Bealers : September 04, 2005 6:24 PM

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The Crown and Sceptre review, Great Titchfield Street

There aren't many pubs I'd ever say this about, but I can honestly say I never want to go back to this pub again. The place doesn't look too bad, and there's space to stand outside, close to Oxford Circus, but the bar staff are absolutely the worst I've ever come across anywhere. The wait at the Crown and Sceptre surpassed my previous personal best by passing the half hour mark. We nearly were served once, but the woman who started taking our order mysteriously disappeared and our third of the bar was left unattended for the next ten minutes. (Had she gone home for the day? We didn't know.) One of the other staff eventually noticed our side of the bar and we were the loudest shouters in the scrum who had the patience to wait. (That is the only way to get served there.)

So, that was the last time we went to the bar, and hopefully the last I'll be seeing of The Crown and Sceptre. Very conveniently, the off-license on the corner diagonally opposite has a large chilled beer selection and sells bottles of Kronenberg for 99p each. I have the feeling they make a fair amount of money out of dissatisfied pub clientele.

My advice: don't bother with this pub. If you do and you're able to drink outside, take a bottle opener and remember the off-license on the opposite corner.

A very old review of The Crown and Sceptre

The Crown and Sceptre is here

The off-license is here

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Review of Soho Thai, St Anne's Court, Dean Street, London

I spent yesterday evening in the Soho Thai on St Anne's Court, just off Dean Street. I've never noticed it before but it's quite a small, unassuming place, especially given its location in Soho. Apparently it's part of the Thai Square chain, but chain restaurants have never bothered me as long as the food's good enough. We had a table booked and, even on a Wednesday night, I think this would be advisable either for a larger group or at peak time.

The interior is quite plain and the wooden tables make it feel more like a cafe than a full restaurant. The air conditioning was a bit over-enthusiastic, even on a very muggy day, but the waiting staff soon turned the vent near our table down. The menu looked pretty good, however, and there was also quite a large drinks selection (including Singha beer, of course).

I decided to share a mixed starter and wasn't too impressed. There was the usual chicken satay (and, as usual, chicken of dubious origin), spring rolls, and random crispy things, and even the fishcakes weren't especially good. For the main course, I went for a red curry with sticky rice and this did turn out well. I've also read that the massaman is good but I was in the mood for a bit of heat. There was no sign of the tinned vegetables that I often find in Thai restaurants and a good sprinkling of fresh chillies (not too hot) in the food. The rice portions seemed slightly small, although this could be due to it being brought to us in a large bowl to share and my land-grabbing techniques not being up to scratch.

Prices come to around £10 for a main course and starter, with drinks on top. This is where they really make their money, and they're quite keen that everyone's well attended to in this respect. Frankly, that doesn't get any complaints from me.

Although I wouldn't make a special trip to go to the Soho Thai, it can be hard to find a decent, reasonably priced restaurant so close to Tottenham Court Road and I expect I'll be eating there again.

Review of Soho Thai on London Eating

Review of Soho Thai on Top Table

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MSN Messenger 7 hack: Removing the search box and banner

This useful little program called the MSN 7 Universal Patcher++ v0.8 is invaluable if, like me, you get really annoyed with the crap that Microsoft ads to every new version of MSN messenger. Since there's no option to remove the search bar, or the little banner, this piece of software does it for you by hacking the code. Simply close messenger, download the file, run it, and then select what you'd like to disable. I disabled the lot.

MSN 7 Universal Patcher++ v0.8

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Spurs activity in the transfer market

Spurs have hit the transfer market at the last minute, signing the Polish striker Rasiak from Derby, Jermaine Jenas from Newcastle (who I guess have to pay for Owen somehow), and Lee Young-Pyo from PSV Eindhoven. It's quite a strong midfield now and it's going to be interesting to see how competition between Rasiak and Mido (when he comes back from his ban) affects the performance of both strikers. It does leave me wondering how Robbie Keane fits into all this as he seems to be playing very little at the moment.

As well as buying some new players Spurs have also sold Erik Edman. I don't know how this will affect the club's performance, but it means yet again I need to make a transfer out of my fantasy football team early in the season.

BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Tottenham Hotspur | Spurs agree Rasiak deal with Rams

BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Tottenham Hotspur | Jenas completes £7m Spurs switch

BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Tottenham Hotspur | Lee completes move to Tottenham

BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Tottenham Hotspur | Rennes complete signing of Edman

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