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Home | 2016 | December

Scrapbook for December

26.12.2016 – Editor's note

A certain popular search engine has seemingly taken offence at this Scrapbook page since 22 December, silently refusing to index it. We can't think why, unless the mere mention of a certain product and its retailer has caused alarm to the advertising department.

Visitors to this page can therefore rightly enjoy the warm glow that comes to those who come across something that no one else knows about.

Update

It's true: our PageRank® has fallen from around 1/googol (1/10100) to around 1/googolplex (1/10googol). NB: the PageRank® of a page is the probability of arriving at that page after a large number of clicks. So far we have noticed no difference in traffic, but we are monitoring the situation closely.

22.12.2016 – Himmel und Hölle

After the Volkswagen diesel affair and the current, less-than impressive police work in Berlin the hoary old joke about Heaven (engineers are German) and Hell (police are German) may need serious revision.

We have surprised ourselves on this blog by finding in the depths of our souls a little – a very little – sympathy for the German police and all their offshoots. Since the rise of Prussia and then the National Socialists there has been a tradition of German citizens generally behaving themselves, registering their residence etc etc.

In the 1970s and 1980s the Rote Armee Fraktion / Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe (RAF) blew a hole in all that order and had little trouble setting up 'safe accommodation'. Need an ID card? Burgle the local town hall – easy peasy – and exit with scores of official blanks.

Now not just the Germans but police services across Europe have to keep tabs on thousands (millions?) of people with barely established or multiple identities and documents (if they have them at all) in exotic languages. Therefore don't blame the police, blame the politicians who created this mess in the first place. Can you hear us, Mutti?

22.12.2016 – Another mystery of modern life

Why do so many young women habitually pull their sleeves over their hands?

Nicole Scherzinger. Image ©Andrew Crowley for the Telegraph.

US singer songwriter and X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger. Image ©Andrew Crowley for the Telegraph.

22.12.2016 – Turning spare kids into money

Fortunately for them, the children of this blog's contributors all grew up before IKEA invented the 'Malm' chest of drawers a.k.a. 'Grim Reapers'. Fortunately for us parents, we were therefore never faced with the choice of which of the little angels to send to get some socks from the top drawer. Hey, come on! $17 million a child is not to be sniffed at in these tough times. The siblings get more pocket money and the latest gadgets and you can always make another if you want. Two or three at once might have taken some explaining, though, but there were times …

Those who have bought and strainingly assembled 'Malms' and who are now excitedly waiting for the next kid to come through the door and get its present from the top drawer will know how incredibly heavy the units indeed are. A feature!

German speakers get a hint of the money-making potential from the choice of name: 'malmen' means 'to chew up thoroughly' and 'zermalmen' 'to violently pulverise, crush or squash'.

By the way: if you are a bit short of cash at the moment and have a spare kid that is probably costing you a fortune over the festive season, 'Malm' chests are still available in Switzerland, where they know the value of things.

IKEA Malm series chests of drawers

The 'Malm' buyer's guide. The three-drawer chest on the left costs 69.95 CHF and weighs in at 31.40 kg, which many will consider quite sufficient for the purpose. However, a mere 10 CHF more will get you the four-drawer version and give you the extra security of another 8 kg. Those wanting utter certainty should go for the six-drawer version at a very reasonable 139.00 CHF, giving you 52 kg, enough to turn any obstreperous teen into instant cash.
Images: ©IKEA.

Of course, for maximum effect don't use the enclosed wall attachment: it's something you 'can' use, not 'must' (Deshalb ist ein Beschlag beigepackt, mit dem die Kommode an der Wand befestigt werden kann). You don't want the little mite to suffer and anyway, if you do, then repairing the damage to your wall when you change homes will cost more than the 'Malm' did.

21.12.2016 – Shutting stable doors

On 18 December 2016 there were Christmas markets and open air events going on across Europe. Carol services and teeming shopping arcades.

On 19 December in Berlin a homicidal maniac executes a truck-driver and runs his truck into a Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring 48 people (let's not forget what the injured are going through currently), all in the name of the Religion of Peace™.

On 20 December armed police are now posted at various public events. Not really sure what a couple of coppers are going to do against a large truck, but there may be some secret plan about which we are being kept in the dark for our own safety.

How was the situation on 18 December any different from the present situation? Are the authorities just stupid not to foresee such attacks? Of course not, they must have foreseen them, but chose to do nothing until after the fact. Are they just saving scarce resources? Are they just trying to avoid acknowledging the conclusion that the West will have to turn into a huge armed camp? Or has some statistical cost-benefit analyis been done on 'acceptable' casualties?

15.12.2016 – FoS website change

We now list the articles about Schubert on a separate page, 'Schubert collection', that is accessible from the sidebar menu. The articles continue to appear in the chronological navigation.

14.12.2016 – Testing for Microsoft

Those users of Windows who spent a year battling Microsoft's attempt to forcibly upgrade their operating systems to Windows 10 may have thought that they could relax their supervision of Windows Update after July this year, when the company concluded its year-long forced upgrade action. Foolish people.

As we pointed out more than a year ago, the price of peace and a stable computer system is eternal vigilance. Those who did allow Microsoft to 'upgrade' their operating systems to Windows 10 now find that their systems are completely managed online by Microsoft and are updated silently in whatever way the company wishes. The recent problems with lost network access are only the beginning.

However, we Neanderthals who fought the good fight against Microsoft during their outrageous misuse of the update system for marketing purposes cannot relax into smugness: they are still out to get us.

Firstly, Microsoft now bundles all their monthly updates into one single package. The user has a choice: all or nothing.

Secondly, a few weeks before the monthly update, users are optionally offered a 'Preview' of the following month's update. The word 'Preview' sounds like a special dispensation for its users from a generous company. It isn't. You should never install these. Never.

'Preview' in MS-speak means a pile of code that has not been fully debugged. When the new code crashes the report is sent to Microsoft, or when things don't work as they should do anymore, puzzled users send in reports manually to the company. Users are thus working as unpaid software testers and potentially putting up with all kinds of problems for no advantage at all. As we now expect from Microsoft, users have to dig deep in the documentation to find this out.

What is the betting that a moment will come soon when the 'Previews' are no longer 'optional' or 'recommended' but pushed onto users as 'important' updates?

13.12.2016 – Thank you, President Putin!

The emails and documents concerning the Democratic National Committee that were hacked/leaked during the Presidential Campaign in the USA gave us written, incontrovertible evidence for what we have always suspected: that American politics is a sewer of money and corrupt influence. Almost anything is for sale when the price is right.

There is nothing in our hearts or heads to make us think that the Republicans are any better than the Democrats, apart from the guess that, having been out of office for eight years, they have had less to sell in recent times.

The rats in that sewer show no shame or remorse. They are currently blaming Russia and President Vladimir Putin for lifting the manhole cover and letting some light shine down into that malodorous murk.

The suggestion is absurd, but, just in case, we ought to thank President Putin for his services to the rehabilitation of American politics. In a sane world we would might ask him, as an ex-KGB man, to give us few tips on organizing show trials, but it will almost certainly not come to this – in fact, we expect nothing at all to happen. The sellers and buyers of ambassadorships and other sinecures just have to wait for a while: they will be back in business before you know it.