rashbre central: 2018

Monday 31 December 2018

year end 2018 - solace in the strangest place.

Symbolic 2018 snowball and cutover to emerging 2019.

Here's the 3min30 rashbre central video summary for 2018.

Sunday 30 December 2018

un-iced disgrace

I see the FTSE 100 continues to head south for the end of 2018. Around as low as at the time of the Brexit vote and 12% down on 2018's start.

Lack of strong and stable leadership has created the worst year since the 2008 financial crisis.

It doesn't get the same headlines because of the never ending Etonian bun-fight, yet everyones' pensions and investments are directly affected and devalued.

Maybe underhand whip tactics of extortion and blackmail will seal the fate of the meaningful (sic) vote?

Who knows.

Friday 28 December 2018

smashed or spooged?

We'd arranged to meet at the usual pretty little village pub, which is right near the end of the Central Line.

"What are they building outside?" I asked.

"What, those cones by the Tescos?" said someone.

"What Tescos?" I replied.

"That's not building work. It's from the ram raid" said someone else.

"Ram raid?"

"They took the cashpoint machine with a digger."

"What? Breaking Bad hits Essex?"

"They did it around by us as well - at the Co-op," said someone else, "It's a thing now."

"...and it's been left like it here since October."

Thursday 27 December 2018


This time it's dawn on a motorway. Part of the grand scheme, this is a stopover en-route.

Contrary to other trips, I'm not doing this in a one-er.

An overnight pause can be quite refreshing. Especially when the new dawn is accompanied by still empty roads.

Wednesday 26 December 2018

placing the past

I started out quite good at this. Guessing the correct time sequence from a series of events.

But it does get tricky. Sometimes events are close together.

Other times they are impossibly out of sequence with expectations. Like the patenting of the typewriter.

A simple, fun game after the festive food.

Tuesday 25 December 2018

party perfect revisited

Survivors of rashbre central's previous seasonal festivities will know that there's a certain point when the silly hats and party games make an appearance.

Not the tv-gaming variety, but analogue games involving old wrapping paper, sticky tape, fruit and the like. For the convenience of others, here's a few sure fire winners, which can be played at everything from amateur through to full Pro standard.

Required items: Wrapping paper, sticky tape, magazines, newspapers, highlighter pen, pins

1) Guess the name : Yes - simply providing the guests with paper hats or pin on labels which they can't see with the name of a sleb (celebrity) on it. They have to guess with the Yes/No answers. Classed as an icebreaker. Marilyn Monroe, Ed Sheeran, Frankenstein, Albert Einstein, A.footballer, Jason Bourne, 007, Mickey Mouse, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Ariana Granda. You get the idea.
2) Dress the person : Kinetic Game, two teams: 2-5 minutes. Select someone to be dressed using either old wrapping paper or a couple of recent magazines or newspapers.
3) Kipper racing : multiple teams. needs a long clear indoor space. cut or tear a largish fish shape from a sheet of wrapping paper or anything similar to hand. Add detail such as a hole for the eye, maybe a dorsal fin. Lie them flat on the floor and give other team members further sheets of paper/magazines to use to create air currents to propel the fish from a start line to a distant improvised finishing line.
4) Tell a tale : Pre select some groups of 7 unusual words from a magazine or newspaper article. Hand them to each team and and ask each team member in turn to tell a story using the seven words. Other teams have to try to guess the words.
(Example words from random article : luckier; heterosexual; chevrolet; banana; promoted; quitter; eggs. and from another page: emissions; cruise; leisurely; overcome; scoop; howling; endurance...you get the idea.)
5) Pass the orange : Why wait until after the dinner has finished to play this game? goes great with coffee.
6) Pictionary: drawing fast pictures based upon words. The boxed set is best for this one.
7) GrEEn GlaSS dOOr : The person in charge suggests playing this and that everyone else can try to be selected to go through the green glass door by suggesting appropriate pairs of things. Things that get in are a pOOl but no water; glaSS but no picture; MiRRor but no reflection (ie the first thing needs a double letter in it.. Play till last person gets it)
8) GGD variants : Play GGD (7) where instead of double letters, each sentence said by the next person has to start with a vowel "...and blah blah bla; ...or blah blah blah ...obviously" and another variant vowel/then consonant and another variant is start with next letter of alphabet.
9) Alphabet Game : Choose topic (Animals, Cars, Candy Bars, Popstars, Drinks). Start at A and round robin through to Z.
10) Stirring the Mush : Announce you are stirring the mush and (eg stand up, sit down, scratch your ear etc). Then start stirring the mush by any hand/body gesture you like. The invite someone to copy. the trick is thay have to do what you did BEFORE you started stirring the mush (eg scratch ear etc). Tell them whether they have passed or not then select next 'victim'. Repeat until all have worked it out.
11) Erect-a-pup : More newspaper for this two in -oner. Part one. Teams. who can make the longest tube in 2 minutes from rolled up paper? Sounds easy. Just watch what happens. Part Two. Now, in another three minutes make a model life sized puppy out of tubes of newspaper. Warning that some puppies will have 3, 5 legs at the end of this.

I think that's enough to get started. No animals harmed in the testing of these entertainments. You'll have to email me for the (ahem) rules of the frying pan and wooden spoon game...and don't forget charades!

*this post first appeared in 2008 and although it has had minor changes, I have left in the technorati tags.

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Monday 24 December 2018

Santa Calculations

santa claus

Time to republish the Santa Calculations, which I first published back in 2006 and then updated in 2010. I'm using 7 billion as the world population.

Firstly, here's the link to the Santa tracking system created by NORAD.

For those of you who are more interested in the technology of Santa, NORAD's FAQs provide the following:
NORAD Sleigh technical data
I've again used the Joel Potischman and Bruce Handy calculations as the basis for the speed calculations, with my own adaptations:

The most notable corrections to be applied are:

- Santa delivers no gifts to naughty children (not even coal)
- Naughty to nice ratio is 1:9
- As confirmed by NORAD, one Santa distributes all of the gifts.
- There is only one family per household.
- Santa bypasses non Santa belief system houses.
- Reindeer have recently eaten fresh magic acorns.

Santa passes Big Ben
Calculation Assumptions (2014):

- World population = 7.06 billion
- Children under 18 = 2.353 billion (Hmm may be higher)
- Global Santa based belief systems: 33%
- Max children requiring delivery therefore 784 million
- Children per household: 3.5 (may seem high?)
- Number of households requiring distribution 224 million
- Naughty to nice factor applied but not many all naughty households
- Remove all naughty households (25% 0f 10%) = 5.6 million
- Eastern orthodox using Jan 5 instead of Dec 25 = 16 Million
- Target Households = 202 million on Dec 25
- Estimated child bed time 21:00 (9pm) with 7 hours sleep.

(child sleep duration on Dec 24 may also require revision)

Gives circa 31 hours (24+7) for all deliveries
Time is 1860 mins or 111,600 seconds

Average number of homes to visit per second = circa 1810.
So average delivery per household is 552 milliseconds, which is why Santa normally appears a bit blurry (I previously thought it was the sherry)

Land surface minus Antarctica is around 79 million square miles. Distribute destinations evenly = 0.7 miles between households creating a total distance of circa 110 million miles.

So 110 million miles in 31 hours = 3.6 million miles an hour or circa 1000 miles per second or Mach 4770 at a linear speed.

This explains Rudolph's red nose because of air resistance creating around 20 quintillion Joules of energy per second, which would convert a non reindeer nose to charcoal at such energy levels. I think the acceleration and deceleration per household may also need some examination.

Luckily Santa has lots of special powers so these mere physics facts are no problem to such a superhero.

Wednesday 19 December 2018


I've been meaning to write something about the enjoyable dystopian book club I joined some months ago. It was almost an accident, when I tried to join a regular book club there was a clash of dates so I delved further and found this alternative.

It's been surprisingly good choice, even if some of the books have been a little - er - controversial. There's been some I've really enjoyed and then every so often one comes along that's in another category.

A recent novel, which we discussed in a rammed pub pre-Christmas, is called Vox, by Christina Dalcher. It's a modern book, published in 2018 and after I read it I looked at a few reviews, all of which seemed to be positive.

I'l have to admit that I struggled.

The premise was that women, in some parallel future, were given a bracelet which counted words. After 100 were spoken in a single day the patrician device administered electric shocks of increasing magnitude. Our heroine was able to dodge the predicament by having a social mission Which Only She Could Perform, to Save Someone Important.

I'm not giving away a plot spoiler with that, the book cover does more than enough of that. My copy was downloaded to Kindle and I read it quite quickly. I couldn't get away from the thought that it had been hurriedly constructed and lacked ideas beyond the initial premise.

Thus, I approached the lively pub table where we'd discuss it with some trepidation that I'd missed an important point, or that the book was cutting edge feminist writing that I'd somehow misinterpreted.

But that's the strange thing. I was a bit late for the session, which usually meets at 7pm. Only 20 minutes late but the conversation was already onto other topics. No one had liked the book. Some had read it all (like me) and others had abandoned it early.

From this highly mixed group of around a dozen who will easily challenge one another there didn't seem to be a saving grace. I decided it had been written hurriedly, others decided that someone had given the author the initial idea and she'd written it up but not added anything. It could have made a short story, maybe based around a one hundred word concept.

I'm intrigued though, by the slick marketing and promotion that the novel seems to have attracted. People with photographs holding it by their library. Many dozens of adoring positive reviews on Amazon. Something doesn't quite add up.

A vox pop of reviewers hiding a riotous crowd close to madness?

loop de loop

The Xmas loop-de-loop travels have started. It'll mean that the blog goes a bit wibbly for a few days until I regain power, wi-fi and time.

I've plenty of complicated road junctions to traverse, a couple of tricky jams along the way and no doubt some unscheduled stops to deal with. But hey.

Saturday 15 December 2018

new speed from an old iMac

I had to clear a space on the desk to add the other iMac. That's the one I've been updating. The main change has been the replacement of the hard drive with a 2Tb SSD.

It was a case of clone the disk then suction the screen's magnetically held glass to reveal Torq screws. Unscrew the ones around the edge then cautiously unscrew and unclip the screen from the chassis. Notice I used a soft surface. Unping the drive and replace. Then put it all back together carefully, remembering to clean all the surfaces.

It's made a huge difference to this 2008 vintage computer which now runs again faster than when it was new.

Using Blackmagic's disk test, the write speed of 230MB/sec is slightly faster than my slimline iMac with its Fusion (SDD+HDD) drive, although, in fairness, the read speed is still slower, albeit respectable.

Considering the upgraded machine is 10 years old, I'd suggest that the total cost of ownership is exceptionally good. Prior Windows PCs have needed significant exchange at around the three year mark.

I'm not so sure that a modern slim line iMac would take such an easy upgrade.

I'll be putting the silver one back where it belongs at the earliest opportunity. Meantime I'm pleased that it can continue to earn its keep.

Friday 14 December 2018

totally trashbat - pass the nanofesto - well futile

Around three weeks ago I was in an Italian restaurant made to look gritty using urban wall paintings. Artful Zoolander Mugatu that brought a smile to each of us.

This time, no smile. More a sense of High Street decline.

A well-known global burger chain's signature look recreates the ambiance of a derelicte car park. Their old design point was to make the seats hard so that people won't stay more than 20 minutes.

This spray-on tattiness takes it to another level. Graffiti, distressed peeling walls, a token festive snowflake on the window.

It is about as cynical as it could be. Order from screen. Wait in noise. Consume in trashed car park ambiance.

Somewhere a proud agency concocted this 'edgy' scheme, as cheap as chips to create with its hose down surfaces. Nathan Barley c.2005 would be proud.

Thursday 13 December 2018

time to put an ssd in the iMac

I'm expecting a new disk for the old iMac to arrive today. It'll be the second replacement.

The 2008 vintage machine has become rather sluggish and I'm pretty sure it's the hard drive that has begun to wear out.

In an attempt to bypass the problem, I ran Disk Utility's First Aid and then rebuilt the catalog's B-tree index using that sudo fsck_hfs -r -d /dev/disk0s2 terminal command, which isn't for the faint hearted (I had to look it up to be sure I'd get the right syntax). The command took around 20 minutes looping through its repair sequence 3 times before it declared everything was once more tickety-boo.

I'm getting the subliminal message that all is not really well.

Temporarily, I've created a copy of the internal drive using Carbon Copy Clone, and have been externally booting the computer from that, across a USB link. It's already faster than using the internal disk, so it is really time for a new disk.

I've decided to move it to SSD, which means it should run faster.

A typical HDD takes about 5,000 to 10,000 microseconds to access data. By comparison, an SSD has access speeds of 35 to 100 microseconds, which is nearly 100 times faster.

If it works then it should breathe new life into the machine. I'll update when I've attempted the exchange. Meanwhile, here's that video of Grace Hopper explaining about nano and microseconds.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

say cheese

It's getting too difficult to keep up with the rate of change of current strong and stable events.

Yesterday's @hugorifkind cheese submarine analogy kept me amused for a while although today's announcement from the Chairmam (sic) of the 1922 Committee hardly inspires new confidence.

Others are talking about zombie governments although the New Statesman's depiction was back in June 2017.

There's about 100 days until the UK simply drops out of Europe, unless a decision on an exit is made. In between could there be leadership tussles? more votes of no confidence? an election?

It'll be more May-hem whether or not the PM is blackballed. New complications, new moves for the Oh-so-silent opposition and more crazy days at the office.