The 8 questions about blogging meme

Well, it would be rude of me not to…

[Meme by Tan and Pete]

1.Can you remember without looking what your first post was about?

Well, this is a little trickier than it sounds because I have been in “the IT industry” for far too long – about 25 years at the time of writing – and I have had to keep various versions of what you’d call a blog professionally on and off for almost as long as that.  Stuff like this was not called a “blog” in those days – I don’t remember when they did start getting called that.  I started calling what I did “blogging” when I joined up with Blogger (with my original account, I now have a few) in 1999 before Google eventually bought them and it became all weird.  I have always had “online” access throughout my working career – what changed was what you could get “online” and how you did it.  In the 1980s it was BBS (bulletin boards) and Unix or Vax boxes with lots of arcane nerdy stuff.  Later on it moved more into things like CIX and Compuserve and then someone clever (with lots of friends!) “invented” the World Wide Web and dial-up became useful and less torturous with the advent of lossless compression and 56k modems.

I know for certain, because I’ve asked them to remove it several times, that there is a “blog” of mine on a local ISP from 1997 – the first post was describing some software I had released.  It’s still there, it can be Googled, as can many of my very early posts about things like Visual Basic, Delphi and Windows. Google never forgets – it’s worth remembering that when you say something daft.

It was not the first one I ever did so – no I don’t remember.  I’d lay money on it saying something like “Hey cool, this is my diary and news page.  I’m clever, please like me”.  🙂

2. Where did you write it?

My first “blogs” were written at work when I worked as a programmer and IT Manager in the 1980s and were on the Janet/Usenet and Compuserve/CIX systems.

3. Which was the first blog you read?

Can’t remember – it would most likely be some kind of thing to do with Unix development and almost certainly from MIT.  I *always* used to religiously read Byte magazine only for Jerry Pournelle’s column: Computing at Chaos Manor.  I wanted to be Jerry and mess with computers and get cool stuff sent to me for free.  I started reading his blog the second I heard about it.  Jerry’s column was very much like a paper version of what blogs like Boing Boing later on became.

4. Who did/do you tell about your blog if anyone?

Generally I don’t actually tell people about my blog.  Typically it gets found from time to time, usually when I really don’t want it to and always when it can cause maximum embarrassment.  When I find out someone else I know has a blog I tell them about mine.  I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve written and I swapped to using WordPress because it supported password-protected entries so I could be more explicit or say things I did not want to be accidentally broadcast far and wide.  I always assume that, even with a password, the stuff I write will eventually get read by someone I would prefer not to read it.  I’ve learnt that this is a good thing and I don’t censor myself (although I do blush sometimes when someone reads back or quotes to me a dodgy passage).  I do rewrite history to avoid implicating or causing unintentional harm to people – it’s my choice to open myself to ridicule, criticism or abuse but I don’t think I have the right to do that to someone else.  If I have an issue with someone I’ll talk to them face to face or email them privately – a blog is not the forum for that IMHO.

5. Has your blog ever caused a scandal?

Lol.  Frequently.  I have been challenged on several occasions in the past about descriptions of work colleagues which, although carefully written, still provoked much unwanted discussion.  Ex-20sixers may remember “Russian smelly fag computer programmer” – I had to wriggle around a bit over that entry when colleagues stumbled across it.  I have also (password protected) blogged about naughtiness, forgotten I had done this and then gave someone the password.  It was an uncomfortable moment when they said “I read all your password-protected entries – you are a filthy boy”.  🙂

6. Tell us something random which happened as a result of blogging?

I was offered a job – the one I am in now.  I have worked at my current employer for 12 or more years.  I left for just under 4 years and worked for myself and then at another company before coming back in March last year.  However, I originally got in contact as a result of one of my blogs.  I was sent a message saying, in effect, “We have a job opening, would you be interested in applying”.  I did and got the job.

7. Snog, Marry or Avoid – pick another blogger for each.

Snog.  Hmmm.  This is going to be one of those blog entries that I will get in trouble over.  I’d snog most girls for fun and without any further intention because I’m a naughty boy but the clear choice, with an agenda, would have to be Lisa.

Marry.  Lisa.  She is a remarkable woman, probably unique and deserves me.  😉  If someone could just move the American continent so that it’s a few miles off the Dorset coast that would be ideal.

Avoid.  Heh heh. SOOOO many bloggers to avoid!  I think my most obvious choice is going to have to be described in a slightly obscure way to avoid backlinks.  Ex-20sixers/Platform27 will remember one blogger on there who suddenly announced one day that he was gay and then proceeded to detail, in their entirety, his predatory and unpleasant and angst-ridden relationships on his blog.  I should point out it was not the being gay bit that is a problem, the gender was irrelevant – it was the way he wrote about EVERY single detail and sounded really like a nasty, dodgy potential sex-pest.  He had previously spent the majority of his time blogging very long and winding rants about the government, local government, Tescos and so on.  He then started posting sound files of his rants and then YouTube videos.  It was absolutely compulsive reading.  I stopped when he started putting links to his adult webcam stuff on his site and posting his telephone number.  I had a feeling it was going to end with a live stream showing him eating his next-door neighbour and frankly I didn’t want to spare the time to make statements to the police at the inevitable prosecution that would follow.  He had the worst blog design known to mankind with HUGE fonts in garish colours that made your eyes bleed.  Surely I can’t be the only one to remember him?  So, yes, avoid – avoid at all costs.  🙂

8. What’s your most amusing blog memory?

Hmm.  I frequently laugh out loud at all sorts of blogs.  If I was to pick one of my own blog things that gave me the most personal belly laughs it was when, on 20six, I posted an April Fool’s entry that pretended I had been accidentally hypnotised into believing I was a soldier from the Vietcong Army and could see snipers and so on in the bushes around the garden.  Several people fell hook, line and sinker for it and for several days afterwards I had people saying things like “oh my God, that’s why I’d never let myself be hypnotised”.  I even got put on WikiPedia’s “April Fool’s Pranks” page (although its dropped off by now).

Blogging is a good thing.  I find it to be cathartic, an intellectual outlet and a good pass-time.


Album art meme

Perhaps I *really* don’t want to do the work I should be doing because it’s a lot more fun playing on WordPress.

Thanks to Lisa and many others – a really fun meme:

  • Click on this link. The title of the page is the name of your band.
  • Click on this link. The last four words of the final quotation on the page are the title of your album.
  • Click on this link. The third picture is your album cover.
  • Take the pic, add your band name and album title.
  • I think I might be an “over-achiever” on this one…’s my slightly-over-the-top reply….



    OK, I enjoyed the imaginary autobiography post and I think I wasn’t the only one so I’m going to do some more – it was fun. I’ve been working harder than a dog strapped to a tractor for the last few days but, fingers crossed, I will be able to sit down and have a [Mrs Doyle voice = on] have a good old think [Mrs Doyle voice = off] and write so more.

    I think an epilogue might be fun – that way you can keep guessing how we got to the first post (and who the puffy-faced man might be).

    But first, tonight is the start of SERIES TWO OF HEROES!

    [raises hands in air] Flying man!

    A random section from my imaginary autobiography…

    …and with that I reached down and picked up the rock. It was time, he had it coming to him. He was an arse and, quite frankly, I was fairly certain that just once, just once I should do something that would be remembered long after I was gone. It meant nothing and it meant everything.

    I pulled my arm back, arching myself like some kind of medieval war machine as I hurled the rock as hard as I could, aiming straight at his stupid, puffy, lying face.

    The rock span; in my mind’s eye a sickening slow motion special effect until it smacked him square between the eyes. I swear I heard a crunchy “thwack” as it made contact.

    There was a pregnant moment of unbelieving silence from the gathered crowd, his “public”; even the secret-servicemen just looked as if they had been frozen by some kind of Godly remote control pause button.

    Then all hell broke loose. Arms and fluorescent jackets blurred around me as I was crashed to the floor and squashed into submission beneath an impromptu playground bundle of unthinking duty-bound gut instinct official muscle. I just had time to see him teeter and then fall backwards, stiff limbed like some great felled tree with a glorious mixed look of shock, recognition and total incredulity frozen into his features.

    Spark out. With a reddening and quite distinctive rock imprint between his eyebrows.

    The last thing the cameras picked up was the huge toothy smirk I was pulling. Then I blacked out with the metal taste of blood between my teeth.

    Meme time

    Gleaned from Gemmak:

    4 movies I’d watch again:
    War Games, It’s a wonderful life, The Harder they come, Groundhog Day.

    4 places I’ve lived:
    Milton Keynes, London, Warwick, Letchworth (Herts).

    4 TV shows I watch:
    QI, Later with Jools Holland, Diggnation (technically a video podcast), Friends (shhhh, guilty secret)

    4 people I email:
    Lisa, Roger, David, Jo.

    4 things I eat:
    Prawns, cheese, chilli, garlic (sometimes all four at the same time).

    4 places I’d rather be:
    America, Paris, Cyprus, London c1662.

    Face painting

    Oh the Beeb launched its sexy new look web site today. I like it, a good “refresh”.

    Whilst trawling through I was reading the coroner’s directions to the jury in the Diana Inquest when this fantastic snippet jumped out at me:

    Verdict options

    He said that he and the jury – plus one Diana fan who sat through all the proceedings with the words “Diana” and “Dodi” painted on his face – were the only ones to hear every word of evidence.



    Snow day

    As predicted by several weather reports, it is snowing heavily in Milton Keynes with horrendous damage caused by the sheer weight of the white stuff.

    I dug my way out of the flat this morning to take this picture of the morbidly threatening heavily-laden clouds dotting the ashen-grey sky of our Bank Holiday weather misery. I hope I make it through the worst of it…


    Hello, can you hear me?

    Isn’t lucky that I walk this planet avoiding confrontation and ordure? It makes for a much less stressful life in the long run. With this in mind, a quick discussion on religion, belief, and, specifically, gods.
    A few posts I have seen on various blogs (including my own) have brought up the subject of dying and, stemming from this, the subject of God. Note here that I am capitalising the first letter of the word god to signify that I am assuming the comments were referring to the god of the Christians; God, rather than a god.

    When you scratch the surface of the human condition you find that there are actually quite a few “gods” around. Hindus have a fair few just for themselves and from what I can see they take a variety of forms some of which are, quite frankly, trouser-fillingly scary. Christians seem to have a bit of a hard time deciding who is right: Catholics and Protestants (who incongruously in their creed declare “…and one holy catholic and apostolic church”) seem at odds on the exact definition and some key points but largely agree on the fact that there is one omnipotent God (capital G) and that he loves us all like naughty children. Various branches of Christianity then seem to divide on certain elements of their faith such as whether or not there is a metaphysical Satan who actively goes around trying to lure people into badness or just a more general infection of devilishness “you’re all bad but it’s ok because there is a way out of this if you just do what we tell you”.

    I’m going to avoid discussion of things like cults or people that believe in lizard aliens or even those who allegedly succeed in becoming Operating Thetans. That’s just too weird.

    Jah seems to be a reasonably clear-cut incarnation of the Christian God with added sacred herb (before you Catholics get cross, I could go on about the incense and bells during communion – it could descend into a full-on debate on icongraphy and subliminal distraction). Rastafarians, of course, believing some fundamentals about the current life being inherently wrong and that it’s Babylon and that they must strive for salvation from it. The non-cutting of the hair and the dietary and proscribed female behavior bizarrely having parallels with that of the orthodox Jewish faith. Jewish customs and religion of course has equal similarities in the Muslim faith with regard to the way that food should be viewed as being important to a spiritual person and that – quite literally – the believer’s body is a temple. Respect for the religion and religious practice of course famously extending to the way animals are slaughtered and prepared for consumption. Funnily enough, the animals one is expected to avoid tend to be those that carry the most natural parasites or risk of food poisoning, an excellent side effect.

    I do have a hard time understanding the claims of Al Qaeda that seem to allow cold-blooded murder (judging by the videos of poor victims like Ken Bigley). This would seem to be completely at odds with what I have read, first hand, of the genuine Muslim faith. But then a supposedly fervent Christian Tony Blair and equally devout George W. Bush went on to sanction horrific actions of their own – more than once. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? Surely not.

    There are of course other faiths like Buddhism which in its non Tibetan form actively says that Buddha was not a god at all and that all of life is a creation and that bad is bad and good is good. Karma – the central tenet – appears to be “what goes around comes around” ergo if you spend too much time doing crappy things then crappy things will happen to you; be good and good things come back. For a long time now I’ve believed this and I feel a much more free and happy person for recognising that shit happens but it doesn’t mean you have to be shitty. It’s perhaps the closest to a religious belief I have.

    I really can’t believe in a god, however you capitalise the word or whatever your exact set of rules/beliefs are. Many religions actively promote the idea that people who question the words and history of their specific religion are evil or in some way deserving of ostracisation. The fall-back plan seems to be to subtly say “ah, you just don’t understand. If you opened up your heart/mind then you would be enlightened”. I have tried this and, quite honestly I beg to differ. Even to question religion in some countries is a serious criminal offence – in many cases punishable by long terms of unpleasantly harsh imprisonment or a generally violent death. Most religions suggest that people who do not share their views should be convinced to share them, with impunity and severe predudice. In some cases this has become an act of faith in itself such as the Mormons (who must have skins thicker than a rhino and a virtually unshakable faith).

    I always found the Quakers to be an interesting bunch – it would appear that they welcome open and frank discussion and quite widely have members (“friends”) who openly describe themselves as Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists. Interesting.

    I still don’t understand why priests, bishops, vicars and so on have to wear vestments. This seems a very odd thing to do and smacks of “look at me I am obviously important because I’m wearing odd clothes that you haven’t got”. Perhaps someone would like to explain to me why vestments are worn?

    Note that I am making a big differentiation here between questioning and discussing beliefs and disrespecting them and slagging them off. I have no idea who, if anyone, is right and everybody has the right to believe what they want to believe – but that works both ways.

    But diversity worldwide seems common. They can’t all be right.