Added Ads

I was gently going about my business yesterday afternoon, only mildly depressed by the scorelines of earlier football matches, when someone (I’m not sure who it was) tweeted about earning money from their blog and how they weren’t, but they felt that they should be. It got me thinking.

6000 miles…has always been about the content. And while you might not agree that it’s very good content, my ever-swelling numbers of visitors and feedburner stats would say differently. So – primarily as an experiment – I have added some Google ads to the site. You may have noticed that subtle massive bar thing across the the top of this (and every other) post. If I make this post long enough, you’ll see the one in the sidebar as well.
And while I’m bound by the somewhat Draconian Google AdSense Terms and Conditions from enticing readers to click on them, that’s obviously what they are there for. Many of my regular readers will be wondering where the excessive profanity, hacking/cracking, gambling, casino-related, illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia content and the sales of beer, hard alcohol, prescription drugs, weapons and ammunition (e.g. firearms, firearm components, fighting knives, stun guns) stuff has gone.
Well, I’m not allowed to do that sort of thing any more either.

Yes, the ads are a little ugly and yes, maybe I’m ‘selling out’ a bit by installing them, but since this blog already conformed to virtually every standard that Google wanted to impose on it anyway, together with the fact that I work damn hard at maintaining the site (you’ve had a post every day for February, March and April), I feel that if I can get some monetary reward from it – well great. 

I’ll also be putting ads onto my RSS feed at some point. Possibly.

Meanwhile, if any company wants to buy ad space on the blog, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I have a big local readership and would offer very reasonable rates to local (Cape Town or SA) companies: I might not be South African, but I do still subscribe to the Proudly South African approach to business. Except that I actually do things when I say I will.

Of course, as a scientist, I recognise that experiments can go horribly wrong. Only last week, I managed to infect over half the population of [suburb] with XDR-TB after an unfortunate incident involving them and some XDR-TB. Hopefully, by the time they track the source, I’ll have made enough cash from Google to escape to [nice place]. 
But if this doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, it – like me – will disappear pretty quickly. Lingerie, pictures, swimsuit, photos, amateurs, underwear, lacy underwear, bra, suspender belt, stockings, sexy ladies.

“Playing Table Tennis”

The Molton Brown Boys monthly curry evening was moved forward this month to the 15th. This was due to the Tall Accountant having Chicken Labrador* withdrawal symptoms because we canceled the December meet. Well, I say it was him – I think we were all suffering and when TA just suggested we moved things a fortnight earlier, we jumped at the chance. 

But now this leaves us all with a gaping hole in our hectic social calendars for this week. So the suggestion of a Table Tennis Evening was vaunted at the recent meet.

I watched bewildered, befuddled and bemused as these plans were made in front of my Jhal Frezi and Mint Paratha. But, seeing the enthusiasm and gusto with which the offer was taken up by everyone around the table, I quickly worked out that a “Table Tennis Evening” was actually a codeword for… well… something else. So obviously, I quickly signed up too. Trouble is, I’m actually not sure what for.

Look, I could just go along to the assigned meeting place at the assigned time on the assigned evening and then see how things go.
But… what’s the dress code?
How much cash will I need?
Should I bring drinks? And if so – what? Powerade? Beer? Uitkyk 15-year-old potstill brandy?

 

Obviously, I have asked, but I always get the same sort of replies: “We’re going to play table tennis,” or “Bring your normal table tennis gear”. But was that a nudge and a wink down the phoneline? Are they assuming that I know more than I do or are we, a group of six 30-something, professional men, going to actually… play table tennis?

The answer, of course, is to prepare for every eventuality (perhaps barring “Gay Disco”) and to head out with an open mind, a wallet full of notes and a boot full of drinks and clothes. Unless, in the interim, anyone can decipher what “Playing Table Tennis” really means.

Please?

* never ceases to amuse.

Microsoft Voice Command for the X1

Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X1 – the appropriately abbreviated SEX1 – can do most everything. OK, it’s struggling slightly on watering the garden and I must confess that I had to help it out slightly with explaining what steps Jacob Zuma can still take to avoid seemingly unavoidable prosecution for being naughty with money. But aside from horticultural dampening and the legal minefield facing our President in waiting, it’s pretty awesome.

Thus, when it was suggested to me that it could possibly be made to be slightly more awesome, I snorted in a rather rude and derisory fashion. Aside from a hosepipe attachment, this was surely as good as it got, right?

Wrong.

Step forward, Microsoft’s Voice Command 1.6. I’ve been having the time of my life since I popped this little app on my phone. Because yes, I know you can get phones with voice dialling, but this is a bit different.

Users can go beyond today’s limited voice options by using speaker independent phonetic speech recognition and text-to-speech technology. Instead of requiring users to pre record all of the names of their contacts, the software is designed to recognize the commands users say without any training, resulting in effortless, hands-free communication.

So yes, it’ll call the wife if you ask it to. But then, you can ask also it what time it is, what date it is; it will chat to you about your upcoming appointments – even tell you who will be in your next meeting or you can ask it to play Favourite Worst Nightmare  by Sheffield’s finest Arctic Monkeys* and it will launch into Fluorescent Adolescent recorded live at The Leadmill.
Which is pretty cool.

There’s a lot to learn on the X1 and I don’t think I’m getting anywhere close to complete knowledge just yet, but every step I take, I’m getting more impressed.
Now, does anyone have a beta version of Sprinkler for Windows Mobile?

* by literally just saying “play Favourite Worst Nightmare”…

Breaking news…

From BBC News Online:

People who drank more than seven cups of instant coffee a day were more likely to hallucinate than those who took just one, a study found.

Thanks for that, Durham University. I’d never have guessed.
I’ll put it in my folder labelled “Startling and Important Scientific Research” along with:

Pope “more likely” to be Catholic, and
Bears “more likely” to shit in the woods

Oh – and that paper about disappearing teaspoons from Melbourne.

Why can’t I get a research project like that?

Learning the hard way

“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

It’s been a “fun” morning.
You know – “fun”? Like going to a local shopping mall with hopelessly inadequate parking 12 days before christmas. “Fun”. 
Yet, desperate to get into the festive spirit, despite the temperature outside being in excess of 30°C, we had headed out in search of a christmas tree. We chose to go artificial this year. Not ideal, but when you consider the utterly appalling range of twigs and mangled branches which claim to be the genuine article, together with their propensity to shed razor sharp needles all over the floor after being in one’s house for more than an hour, not really a tough decision.
Better then to go with the neatly boxed plastic version with integral fairy lights and needle-free-carpet guarantee.

“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

Game at the Kenilworth Centre was suitably over-priced, under-stocked and chock full of clueless employees being unhelpful and impolite customers binging their 0.5% interest rate reduction away. Thanks for that, Tito
While the season and the weather here may be rather different from back home, it’s nice to recognise some of the christmas traditions have made it safely over. We went for the 6′ (180cm) version – anything else just looks foolishly small – threw it in the trolley with a bit of tinsel and some baby food and set off on the 3 mile trek back to the car, which was parked 3 miles away.

 “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

Feeling slightly weak after the ordeal of fighting our way through a billion (apparently blind) shoppers and inhaling lungfulls of car fumes during the return expedition through the parking lot, the wife suggested a stop at the McDonald’s across the road for suitable sustenance. Namely a chocolate milkshake for her, a really unhealthy burger for me, a Happy Meal for the boy and absolutely bugger all for the baby (we’re still trying to wean her off chicken mcnuggets).
And here, after all those other hard-learnt lessons about fir trees, Kenilworth Centre’s parking problems, foolish times of the year to go shopping and so on, is where I learnt the hardest lesson of all.  
“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

McDonald’s Happy Meal toys now make noises. Did they ever do that before?
Sure, some of them moved and stuff, but Alex the Lion from Madagascar 2 – Escape to Africa (I tried it, it’s not too bad, but avoid Jo’burg) goes  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!” every time you shake go within 10 feet of him. My little Alex is delighted that, although his chesseburger wasn’t up to much, his small leonine namesake makes a noise. Repeatedly. An  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!” noise. 

Alex the Boy has gone for his midday nap now. Alex the Lion is still “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”ing despite currently residing at the bottom of the swimming pool. 
Yep, you can say what you like about the Chinese, but when it comes to making annoyingly resilient cheap plastic crap, there’s no-one that comes close.

EDIT: And in reponse to this, these (with more at flickr):