Category Archives: Rants

View Indicator App

View indicator, East Mount Lowther

Irvine harbour view indicator

Having talked about wanting to write a phone app, I now need to work out what to write: this is important because you’ll never forget your first app.

One of my simple pleasures in life is getting to the top of a hill to discover a view indicator.  You know the sort of thing, a lovely brass plaque with lines radiating out showing the bearing and distance to various landmarks.  I’m engrossed and spend a happy time following the lines to the various landmarks, much to the chagrin of the Canine Companion who regards a summit as a food stop and is demanding better service from the kitchen.  Sadly, one of the many disappointments in this life is that such delights don’t appear on every summit.  So wouldn’t it be cool to have an app that provides this public service wherever you are?  That’s one of the better articulated requirements specs I’ve read in a while and so that is what my first phone app will be: View Indicator 1. Continue reading


  1. July 2012: I’ve recently discovered that these things are called Toposcopes

Psst! Want to Build an App?

As a treat for regular readers this entry is a little departure into my life as one of the world’s foremost Software Developers 1.  A developer is that strange breed of person who likes computer technology and uses it to produce the web sites and applications that users need to get their Internet fix without having to do any of that tedious thinking. We don’t get much human company (or vitamin D) and have “simple” social skills, and assume that everyone loves technology.  If this isn’t you then please move on: it’s going to be a techie-fest from now on because I’m going to write about developing my first phone “app”.  Now we all know that “app” is a word coined by marketing types in expensive suits and nice hair who can’t cope with something as polysyllabic as “computer program”. 2  But if it makes coding look cool once again 3 then who am I to disagree?
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  1. And because my knee is still not back to full walking
  2. And before you write in indignation to the Daily Mail, yes we use the American form for software: “programme” is for what the BBC produces.
  3. As some reports suggest.

A Tale of Two Rants

Let’s get a few things straight first: cars are devices for getting me to somewhere I want to be, reliably, safely and cheaply.  The number of brake horsepower and the other Top Gear trivia is something I’ll leave to sad hydrocarbon-craniums 1.  We’ll today I bought a car for the Missus. 2  And this entry describes the horrors of the experience, and not just that Jazz has been banned from the new jalopy due to personal hygiene issues!  Forsooth!   Continue reading


  1. It’s “petrol head” – Jazz
  2. Is there no end to this man’s largesse? – Nope (Ed.)

Cruelty to Fishboxes

What’s the world coming to?  You can imagine our shock and distress on a walk today at seeing a beautiful collection of fish-boxes being used to store horse manure!  And I thought we were meant to be civilised…

What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?

Tow-path near Dullatur

With Last-born at T-in-the Park, a weekend of rain was expected and indeed forecast, so you can imagine our complete lack of surprise to have a lovely walk in hot sunshine.  A bit of a change this week with a nice circular walk taking in a bit of the Forth-Clyde Canal and the Antonine Wall near Kilsyth and so getting two engineering marvels in one go. Continue reading

Could you have a look at my computer?

Since 1979 I have had daily, intimate, contact with a computer of all shapes, word lengths (yes, pre-byte days) and clock speeds. 1 Apparently this means I am just sitting by the phone waiting for the call “Could you have a look at my computer?”…

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  1. You can tell this is degenerating into a techie rant so probably best to skip unless you’re called Fenton or Stuart, or still have pleasant thoughts about the VAX-11/780.  We can have a pleasant argument over a glass or two over whether VMS or BSD4.2 was a better OS on this platform.

For Podcasts You Need the BBC

My boots listening to a podcast

Podcasts make life that little bit better. I realise that you may not live on the bleeding edge of technology like I do, and so haven’t yet grasped this reality, but it’s time you and podcasts got acquainted.  It’s nothing magical: just a programme that gets downloaded onto your iPod-type device for you to listen at your leisure. So basically you get to listen to stuff when you want to, without having to remember to tune into the BBC Home Service at 7pm on a Tuesday. Continue reading

Life before Miukumauku

Miukumauku is the Finnish word for the @ symbol: it means the cat’s tail. Isn’t that lovely? I bet most people reading this have one sitting nicely in their email address. It comes from the English word at, e.g. “” is user kev at the domain  All very sensible.  But it was not always so…

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It turns out I was wrong…

I want to prepare you for a shock: I was mistaken. When I started this blog I thought it might be jolly to allow the world to comment on the various things Jazz and I get up to and discuss. I know it was naive, but I thought everyone else was like me: smart, hard-working, decent and attractive. I expected the comments to be from kindred spirits talking about the walks, the landscape, and why Springer Spaniels are never going to become Crufts’ Obedience Champions. Well, I did get some lovely comments from nice people (as well as the expected gratuitous abuse from members of my family) but then it went downhill… Continue reading