Sunday, 30 April 2006

Church vs Da Vinci Code

An Australian church group want people to think twice before believing what The Da Vinci Code say about Jesus, as reported by Yahoo. Interestingly, the group says Our concern is that The Da Vinci Code will mislead people about the truth. In my opinion, nobody knows the truth about events that happened 2000 years ago, whether it'd be the church or Dan Brown. But they certainly have the right to offer a different view.

Saturday, 29 April 2006


For the Londoner who likes shopping but doesn't like paying the full price, here's a brand new site that shows you what promotions are on in your area: LynkU. It looks quite good and hopefully will eventually be even more useful while customers start posting comments on the shops and promotions.

Thursday, 27 April 2006


Ah the joys of targeted news and ads in gmail! Reading through an email conversation about beer, gmail offered a link to an amazing recipe: the beeramisu. Genius!

Google Preaches Firefox To IE Users

Via Graham, Google tells IE users to get Firefox. As mentioned in the article, maybe this will prompt Microsoft to solve all the CSS bugs in the first release of IE7 rather than leave some for later as is currently the plan.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Couscous Man

I now have a new nickname: Couscous Man. All this because I was at a party on Sunday night, where I demonstrated I knew how to cook couscous, thus earning brownie points with the lady of the house. So, for those who don't know how to cook couscous, here is the secret recipe (which you can also find on the side of packs of most brands of couscous, especially the French ones):

  1. Pour couscous in a dish,
  2. Sprinkle with olive oil,
  3. Boil water separately,
  4. Add a little hot water to the couscous and leave until all water is absorbed,
  5. Break up clumps of couscous with a fork,
  6. Taste for consistency,
  7. Repeat the previous 3 steps until the couscous is not crunchy anymore.

Faking It

Salvatore is a wise man. As he more or less said on Sunday night:

Men can't fake orgasm. Women can. But there's a trick: if they sneeze, you know they're not paying attention and they're faking.

Before you ask, that was after a few bottles of wine.

Cheap Laptops

I just came across It looks like they have cheap laptops, including refurbished ones. It's not clear whether they sell only to students but they certainly seem cheap.

Thursday, 20 April 2006

Canon Can't Deliver

I've just gone through the 10 pages of camera goods retailers listed on and none of them is able to provide me with an EF24-105f/4L lens. They are all out of stock and waiting for a huge backlog to be delivered by Canon. Jessops haven't seen the colour of one of those lenses since Christmas. And it looks like Canon are having huge quality control issues on those lenses.

Monday, 17 April 2006

Stable and Straight


Coming home last night, I was walking on along Kew Bridge and the view downriver was beautiful. I had my camera with me so decided to take a picture. Being at night, it was going to be a long exposure, especially considering I wanted most of it sharp so needed a narrow aperture.

The main issue in such conditions is to make sure the camera is stable and doesn’t move. For this a tripod, or any other device on which the camera can stand is essential. In my case, I had a mini tripod that I could prop on the bridge’s wall. Then, a cable release is also essential. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, pressing the shutter button on the camera body itself will make it move, ever so slightly, and it will show.

This being landscape photography, an important point to bear in mind is that the horizon should be horizontal. Usually, you should be able to trust your eyes but it is sometimes difficult to evaluate, especially if the scene is unbalanced on one side or if your main subject is curved like this river scene. To cater for this, I always have a cheap but invaluable piece of equipment: a small spirit level that fits in the camera’s accessory hotshoe.

After five minutes of setting up my stuff, I was ready to take the shot and here’s what came out.

Wednesday, 12 April 2006


I use AVG Antivirus from Grisoft as my anti-virus of choice on my Windows laptop. At the moment I get one virus update a day, if not 2. I suspect hackers are very busy writing viruses while Grisoft are very busy writing counter-measures everyday. So, update your virus scanner. Now.

Gaston, y a l'téléphon qui son

I just called the Jessops shop in Ealing 3 times. The first two times, it was engaged. The last one, nobody ever answered, although I let it ring a long time. If they had answered and had had what I was looking for in stock, I would have gone there immediately and bought it without any question. That's a missed sale worth about £800. Nevermind, I'm happy to give my money to someone else.

Note for people who are not French: the title is part of the lyrics from a song by Jacques Dutronc about a phone that always rings and that nobody ever answers.

Niagara Falls

At last, and after some fiddling with Photoshop, I have uploaded my pictures of the Niagara Falls.

Sunday, 9 April 2006

Extreme Gardening

A monster rabbit is currently the bane of northern gardeners, as reported by Reuters and The Register.

Saturday, 8 April 2006

Jesus & Spring Ice

Did Jesus really walk on water? According to the Discovery Channel, he walked on spring ice.

Busiest Airport

I went through Hartsfield-Jackson again last week and was reminded in an impressive way that this is the busiest airport in the world in terms of planes landing and taking off. I was transferring from a Delta flight from Buffalo to a British Airways flight to London Gatwick and had a window seat on the BA flight. While in the take-off queue, I could see three runways (I don’t know if it has more). One of them was used for take off, the other two for landing and the planes were following each other uninterrupted on all three! The amount of coordination and planning this must require defies the imagination.

I was much less impressed when I landed in London as I discovered that, although they had 5 hours to do it, Hartsfield-Jackson failed to transfer my luggage from one flight to another and I had to go back home with only my cabin luggage, after having filled a mishandling report with BA. Luckily, I always make sure the important items, like money and door key, are in the bag I take with me, just in case. It just meant that my dirty laundry arrived home 24 hours after I did.

Lots and lots of water!

After 3 weeks in Atlanta for work, I had a 3 day week-end to take somewhere before going home. I was originally planning to go to Florida but a combination ot spring break and tennis tournament put too high a price tag on that project. Instead, I found a good deal online to go to the Niagara Falls. In a way, this was also a way for me to correct an old mistake: the very first time I visited the US, I stayed 1 month in Erie and miserably failed to see the Falls.

So I took a flight to Buffalo on Friday evening. I was a bit surprised when the guys at the taxi rank told me that the hotel I had booked was on the Canadian side of the falls rather than the American one. I had no idea because it wasn’t mentionned in the package. But this made it even better as I had never been to Canada.

I saw the Falls for the first time on the Saturday morning. There is only one word to describe them: wow! Even seeing them on an overcast day doesn’t reduce the impact. What does reduce the impact though, is that the town around it is little more than a big amusement park, with casinos and haunted houses galore. There are a couple of redeeming factors though: a few great pubs with excellent live music at the week-end and the Canadians themselves who are extremely friendly.

Photos will be forthcoming soon. I experimented with very long exposures so I have a little work to do in Photoshop before I can post them.

Paying Myself

It took me longer to set up than I expected, mainly because I was out of the country earning money for the company, but I finally paid myself a salary for the first time. There’s no use in having a lot of money on the company’s account if your personal account is empty.

The way to do this in the UK is to set up a PAYE (Pay As You Earn) scheme for the company and then have a good accountant who can do all the calculations and send you a couple of payslips: one for you, one for the Inland Revenue that includes income tax and National Insurance contributions. Then it’s just a matter of doing a couple of bank transfers, making sure you have the correct reference on the one for IR. It’s all reasonnably straightforward.

It was good to be able to finally transfer money to my personal account as its balance was starting to get uncomfortably low after 3 months without income. The good side of this was that, for this one payment, I had very little taxes to pay because of this 3 month lack in salary. In practice, I could have done that quicker if I had really needed to but it is definitely something to take into account when starting a business: make sure you have some cash saved in case you can’t pay yourself immediately.

In the process, I discovered that HSBC, in all their wisdom, automatically open a savings account for your company alongside its business current account. There seems to be no snag in using it: you can take the money out when you need it and it gathers interest in the meantime. So I made sure I transferred some funds in there as well, to build up a cash cushion for when the times get rough or invest in growing the company when I feel like it.

Next on my list are to sort out BUPA and private pension. Oh and finding another customer to keep the company’s accounts healthy.