Forward, positively..

August 19, 2010

Not so Much a Tiger in the Tank….

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Work — Tags: , , , — thebestbrew @ 12:07 pm

As a ghost (or at least a bug) in the machine and a word in your Shell-like…

Stopping for petrol at a station with the (near ubiquitous) pay at the pumps (and save us from employing people) machines – imagine my surprise!

It’s always amusing to see the places where a software fail appears – well here’s mine. I just couldn’t find how to get a mouse movement to click “Send Error Report” to point the finger at the GUIFrameworkLoader of shame 🙂

Not so good, Shell



January 26, 2010


Filed under: Rants and Opinions — thebestbrew @ 11:39 am

[clearspring_widget title=”Widget” wid=”4ad32c10c571932a” pid=”4b5ed483bf00a013″ width=”330″ height=”476″ domain=””]

September 3, 2009

Imagine my Delight…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Work — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 2:59 pm

With access to the Office 2010 Technical Preview (O2010TP, or maybe O2kXTP/OMMXTP), running 64 bit Vista and this statement from Microsoft

“Office 2010 is available in a 64-bit edition for 64-bit Windows operating systems.  With Office 2010 64-bit edition, advanced users will be able to leverage the increased memory capabilities of 64-bit computing and harness this capability for analysis and manipulation of very large data sets and documents. “

Wow, at last, 64 bit Office – the chance to try a great Office productivity suite in all its 64 bit glory. Tremendous!

Download…….wait……for a wee while…….done. Disclaimers – OK, backup…..patience…..done.

Install……wait…..”Sorry, you need uninstall your 32 bit Office”. WT?

Seemingly gone are the days of versions of Office sitting side-by-side, letting you compare, giving you the comfort of compatibility with your main office app – seeing how things looked and worked in different versions.

Oh No, Frank, not this time. OMMX is an upgrade. Clearly it shares components with O2007 so needs to upgrade a bit-like version and wouldn’t like, at all, to have to share an outlook.ost file with a 32-bit app.

For my sins, I bit, jumped in the deep end, committed myself, took the giant leap for dumb-kind. I was seduced and entranced by the prospect of having a bright, shiny new thing which could offer me untold excitement, head-spinning new features – and which could blow my mind with its higher, faster, stronger functionality. Was this a prudent move, the action of a cautious, intelligent, experienced, seasoned, nay – (would some say) even cynical – IT pro? CLEARLY NOT.

Did it make some sense? Well of course it did. I had a backup, I wanted to look at what new stuff was on offer. So the 64 bit was the first route to try. We are a Microsoft Gold Partner with the Information Worker competency so we have to give this a spin.

It didn’t last 24 hours – small problems which gave me big issues meant I had no option but to reverse out OMMX and re-install O2007 having sent OMMX support several ‘frowns’ in the few frustrating working hours we had together. So a more prudent route beckons – go with the 32-bit version, try that, trust that it won’t have the niggles of its bit-wise bigger sibling and then spread some GOOD WORD on the delights which, I am sure, lie within.

Office2010 TP 32-bit…..Download…..wait….

July 10, 2009

eLearning and an Industry Spectrum…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Work — Tags: — thebestbrew @ 1:32 pm

I’ve just read (on paper) an article on e-learning and the motor industry by Mark Rewhorn. This featured in Prime, a print version of Microsoft’s manufacturing magazine.

Summary – lightweight piece, not giving any decent insight into e-Learning, certainly not realising/appreciating/understanding the breadth and depth of e-Learning which has been successfully going on for years in other sectors and showing the auto sector firmly following rather than leading in e-Learning.

Given that the basic automotive product hasn’t changed much in a hundred years and that GM and Chrysler are the two largest US bankruptcies to date in 2009, it is probably unfair to expect that (other than in making cars) the industry will be at the forefront of the majority of technologies.

However, it does a great dis-service to other economic sectors for Mark to not acknowledge that automotive is very much playing catch-up in e-Learning. From my own experience in Company Net, we have for around 6 years been providing the platform, content management and support of one of the largest e-Learning programmes in the country, if not in Europe, in the form of the NHS in Scotland’s Cleanliness Champions programme. This program is oriented at combating Healthcare Associated Infections(HAI) and the online version of the program has seen thousands of clinical staff in the NHS consume an extensive volume of course content in addition to undertaking work-place based activities. The system now supports over a dozen individual courses and programmes targeted at HAI prevention.

Blended learning is not the future, as Mark Rewhorn reports, it is here, in progress, happening now and delivering real learning and development.

Several factors such as:

  • the rapid growth of corporate intranets (the natural home for online-learning),
  • the need for ever-greater levels of evidenced compliance training
  • the need for more effective (and efficient) staff training
  • the crucial need for the enterprise to have a more flexible, agile workforce

are driving more and more e-learning across all sectors and sizes of enterprise. Car makers – welcome to the world of e-Learning.

July 8, 2009

Bing, Bing….

Filed under: Rants and Opinions — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 9:56 am

Is that a ringing sound, a re-branded search engine or a reference to two heaps of waste from underground coal mining in Scotland?

I’m off to the Glasshouse restaurant in Musselburgh later today. Well established, vague idea where it is but best check for detailed location. Solution, Google maps, naturally.

Top of the search results, tick. Marker on the map, tick. Aerial view for parking and orientation, tick. Job done per usual – thank you Google.

But wait. I’m a Microsoftie mostly so, let’s give them a chance and use their Bing answer engine. Search for Glasshouse, Musselburgh – it’s not even in the search results – FAIL. Marker on the map – in the middle of Edinburgh – FAIL. Aerial view – I cheated and looked at the correct location and got some duff old poor-res photo, tick but rubbish quality.

However, the ace up Bing’s sleeve is the birds eye view – PERFECT. Exactly what I want to see for parking and local layout, ideal, tick, tick.

What an enormous disappointment. For a real bing (or five) see below – snow-covered bings in West Lothian courtesy of


photo probably copyright of SNH

June 30, 2009

Standing Head and Shoulders Above the Rest…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions — Tags: — thebestbrew @ 12:33 pm

…to hang our heads in shame.

Some time ago in another place, I highlighted this ONS report into Alcohol-Related deaths on the BBC news web site. On every measure and in every population segment, we win the race to kill ourselves with alcohol.

Today we have an NHS study suggesting the actual death toll may be 1 in every 20 deaths in Scotland is alcohol related (study based on 2003 data and the rate is increasing).

I’m no paragon but that’s a fairly eye-watering number. Maybe we could have slot on the news “…Today another 8 people were killed by the still-legal drug, Ethanol – the death-toll continues to rise. And now the weather…”. That would have to be read out every day of the year.

A small selection of graphs – Scotland is highest and that is BAD.




June 2, 2009


Filed under: cartoon, Rants and Opinions — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 10:20 pm

Is not a large town in the Mid-West, the UK or anywhere else….


The Business Development Cycle…

Filed under: cartoon, Rants and Opinions — Tags: , — thebestbrew @ 10:06 pm

Business Development Cycle_small

May 16, 2009

The Public Meets Bob, MP…

Filed under: cartoon, Rants and Opinions — Tags: , , , , — thebestbrew @ 10:32 am

public meets bob mp_small

May 15, 2009

On Distraction and Focus…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Social Media Commentary, Work — thebestbrew @ 10:09 pm

I posted the following as a comment to this blog post by Colin Gilchrist on Creativity, Food and Distractions. I thought it was worth posting here. An extract from his post is…

“….No distractions were an interesting one for me because it’s a real challenge – I am permanently submersed in media from all angles – but hey it’s opened up a whole new world. This is where Westwood and Cleese come in. They advocate the no distraction; sit in peace, sleep on it, and way of living.
John Cleese talks eloquently about Creativity and his time in the Cambridge Footlights making him realise that loosing an entire script, rewriting it the next day – only to discover the original and compare – the second was far superior to first – he’d let it gestate in his mind and form a more rounded story.
Vivienne Westwood famously does not allow music in her studio and does not own a TV she finds that all this constant bombarding of media in every day life is holding back the human disposition for Creativity.
What do you think?…”

My response is – It’s less that they HAVE something but rather that others have lost that thing. It is ability and aptitude to find calmness and focus.

We, especially those involved in new-ish media, so constantly immerse ourselves in and are bombarded-by multiple message streams that we develop a bumble-bee attention span. We dip into and out of content, picking attention-grabbing goodies and moving on.

Even finding a small oasis of calm in a day can be immensely beneficial – not just for the refreshed feeling which immediately follows but also for the enhanced and freed thinking which you subsequently can be capable of.

Only 20 minutes of enhanced relaxation in the middle of the day can yield great benefits for you – and for your employer.

May 7, 2009

Black and White…

Filed under: Blogroll, Rants and Opinions — Tags: , , , — thebestbrew @ 10:29 pm

…as keys on a piano, or a chessboard or yin and yang. It’s like being taken by the hand, sat down and shown how something incredibly simple works, along with a diagram and the pieces laid out and labelled.

Spence clearly has to use words of (metaphorically) one syllable in (metaphorically) short sentences to help people understand something which – even with my passingly tenuous comprehension – is glaringly obvious.

This like a teacher having to go back over basic stuff, slowly, for the pupil who didn’t get it first time because he was staring out of the window, slack-jawed wondering what sorcery made it possible for aeroplanes to fly.

Any lingering questions about the MCM for Sharepoint are answered in Spence’s Reality Check post.

Read it, slowly if necessary, follow the words with your finger and – if it’ll help, move your lips…

…then MOVE ON.

May 4, 2009

Great Way to Start the Day…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Work — Tags: , , , — thebestbrew @ 8:38 am

Guess what – Windows Vista has an official ‘Problem Event Name’ called BlueScreen. I know because it happened – see below. The side effect is, of course, that the junk which Outlook normally mops-up got sent to my Smartphone over the weekend. My joy knows new depths. (Maybe I’ll get lucky and our support guys will let me have the Windows 7 RC?)


October 13, 2008

Not-so-Clever Old Virtual PC…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions, Work — thebestbrew @ 12:18 pm

I am an old-fashioned guy, you save up for nice things, wrap-up when it’s cold and when you’re told you have enough physical memory available – you should be able to start your VM.

Not so fast there old guy.

VPC seems to want to load your VM on top of all the accumulated stuff on the floor of the cow barn. This is a bit confusing because after closing a VM you were always below where you started in terms of available physical memory – VPC (or something associated with it) had cleared out the no-doubt-otherwise-valuable stuff which had been sitting in RAM.

Unfortunately, VPC doesn’t do this RAM mucking-out before it tries to grab its chunk (in this case 2.4 Gb on a 4 Gb laptop) – it does it afterwards – see the snip of physical memory usage from task manager below, the graph peaks somwehat over 96% after launching VPC and then falls back by about 10% or so.

I know there must be a really good reason for this but all I want is to run my VM when I have enough memory free.

(It’s OK guys, I know there are all sort of benefits for leaving stuff in RAM that’s only temporarily finished with). Read the excellent Mark Russinovich if you want to get under the covers.


June 28, 2007

From Buttock-Clenching to Smooth as a Baby’s…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions — thebestbrew @ 1:08 pm

Gillette Fusion is one of the most cringe-worthy adverts on TV. Period. But I’m bigger than that and if more is better then Fusion may displace Quattro from my bathroom mug.

Thanks to the girls of the house, I have 2 Fusion promo packs and yesterday one of those was promoted from the subs bench into the main action. My anticipation was seriously blunted(sic) by the amount of packaging – see below.

The populace can whine interminably about food miles and carbon footprints but this is incredible. All this…

For one razor – I expect Gordon Brown to take immediate action – I am, after all, a Fifer too.

The shave is a whole different story. The ongoing outcome is yet to be assessed but the blade on the back is HOPELESS. I wear specs to shave but because I wear varifocals, I can’t get close enough to the mirror to see the ‘tricky’ bits and use the single blade without removing the specs – RUBBISH. More on the 5 versus 4 later.

February 23, 2007

Find a Mind and Blow it…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions — thebestbrew @ 1:14 pm

This was a fascinating article on the BBC web site a few days ago…

Decoys fix quantum key swapping

OK – quantum cryptography, yes – heard of it, kind of got the gist, but this is fantastic – not only messing about with individual photons but sending decoy photons, that’s wild.

Follow the link to the Toshiba Quantum Information Group and see what they are playing with in their sand-pit. Incredible, absolutely incredible.

I used to be a real dull looking-back kind of guy and liked to point out how much change a 70 or 80 year-old will have seen in the world, but this stuff really points out how much change I will see in my life span. Heck, man landing on the moon is (almost) history and I was 14 when that happened.

Why then is the basis of automotive power (internal combustion of refined oil products) fundamentally still the same as 100 years ago? Answers on a conspiracy postcard to George and Dick.

Pictures, Words, Thousands thereof…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions — thebestbrew @ 12:16 pm

Scotland out in front by miles…Here’s a picture…

The words are… Alcohol-Related Male deaths per 100,000 of the population 1991 to 2004.

Scots women are also out in front. This is a crap race to be leading.

Read the report here.

February 20, 2007

More Thought Needed NOW…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions — thebestbrew @ 5:13 pm

On the face (sic) of it this sounds as if we are standing on the verge of a fantastic flowering of new, emotionally involving computer gaming.

Real game characters ‘next year’

Considering that the top 6 of the top rated Xbox360 games on Gamespot are shooters, what are going to be the implications for having ‘real’ characters in these genres? Are we happy that in, say, 5 years, kids will be able to shoot ‘real’ people in computer games.

We rightly have legislation which bans the creation/possession of photorealistic, pornographic images of children – how do we propose to deal with the representation of killing a realistic or real person in a game? 

Answers on a postcard (or start a debate)…

February 12, 2007

Will it Blend…You Bet…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions — thebestbrew @ 5:28 pm

Check out this site and go for the don’t try this at home section.

What a fantastic way to promote your product – the thing seems indestructible.

and kids – check with a responsible adult what DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME means.

February 8, 2007


Filed under: Rants and Opinions — thebestbrew @ 2:00 pm

That’s the sound you make when you hold your breath for such a long time – don’t try it at home kids!

You can’t talk (even in an online, metaphorical way) when you hold your breath, hence my absence. but when people see you with a blue face, they tend to assume it’s some Braveheart make-up job for supporting Scotland at a raucous sporting event.

I think this is some constipatory break-through as I have now completed a course of study in hypnotherapy, Yay – more on that later – and, and, AND I can now connect my Smartphone to Vista (close your eyes and image sounds of crowds whooping). The link to the groovy code, plumbing, connecty stuff officially known as Windows Mobile Device Center Driver for Windows Vista (entry in Spence’s blog) that makes it happen is here:

December 20, 2006

Here today, Eragon tomorrow…

Filed under: Rants and Opinions — thebestbrew @ 12:44 pm

Poetic licence – actually we went to see Eragon last Saturday.

It’s a good wheeze, completely derivative but that doesn’t spoil the fun. Best bit of the day was having lunch with friends in The Rendezvous in Edinburgh – superb for a buffet lunch.

On balance – go for lunch, wait for the Eragon boxed set.

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