Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Domain Names

I have never bothered registering a domain name in the past. This is principally because the main one I wanted,, is owned by some fly-by-night chancers who run a few ships and harbours. Quite how that can justify them getting in the face of my obvious ownership is beyond me but I have decided I will not sue them for cyber squatting. *Deep Breath* I'm man enough to walk away.

Anyway - I figured it was about time I had my own Domain so I have squandered £10 pounds to get Of course it just points to this web log since I haven't anything else remotely interesting to do with it at the moment. This is the reason I have dusted of my amateurish PhotoShop skills to create the new brash logo you see above, horribly undermining the subtle design work of the original template developer.

So if you are one of the kind people who link to Ports Thoughts, please feel free to update to link to so my new branding exercise will impress all and sundry, even though it is about 5 years after everyone else did it :-(

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Modern Shmodern

In an accidental fit of culture, Ali and I ventured to the National Theatre this afternoon to watch "Theatre of Blood" - a hilarious staging of the old Hammer House of Horror film which starred Vincent Price. The stage version starred Jim Broadbent and is an account of a hammy old actor who tricks seven newspaper critics who had savaged his performances in the past to an old theatre and then slaughters them all in the style of murders from Shakespeare plays (sorry if you were planning to go an see it, I may have given away some plot points). Plenty of blood and guts and all together excellent value for a tenner each.

However, since we were on the South Bank and in a cultured frame of mind we decided to venture down the Thames to the Tate Modern. I love art and Ali's sister is a fine artist so I have good reason to make the effort to appreciate art. We even have pictures up in the house that don't involve a female tennis player scratching her arse. I also like the idea that artists try to challenge the nature of what art is and what it means to the viewer, but please, don't put the results in an art gallery! Keep those thoughts in the A'level philosophy essay where they belong.

Seem a bit harsh? Well today we got to see 3 basket balls suspended in a fish tank. At least when Damian Hirst suspended a shark in formaldehyde it was original. But it's been done now. Move on. Ridiculous and plagiarism. Then there was the pile of bricks which apparently was the "artist" questioning what represents artistic materials. No, it was a twat wasting my time. Possibly the most pathetic display was a small glass of water suspended 7 feet up on the wall. The accompanying sign explained that the glass of water was in fact an oak tree and that the "artist" was challenging our perception of objects. If I were ever to meet the "artist" I might offer to challenge his perception of pain via a well deserved knee in what he perceives to be his bollocks. Idiot.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My mate Joel

The regular reader might know that my good mates Marcus and Ellen (or Mellon as Ali and I call them to save time) bought me a single share in Manchester United football club a couple of years ago for my birthday. It was an excellent present since I have been getting company reports and announcements not to mention invitations to company meetings ever since. So while most fans think Wayne Rooney cost £30million, I know from the company accounts that he cost £27.5 million with the other £2.5million being dependant on the number of goals he scores.

Obviously anyone who has been keeping their eyes on the news will know that the Glazer family have now bought 95% of Man Utd shares. This means that they now have the right to force everyone else to sell their shares. But I have been holding out with my one share :-) I have so far received about five letters and a huge prospectus from some legal company called NM Rothschild & Sons asking me to sell them my share. Just to clarify - my share is worth about 3 quid. I dread to think how much they have spent trying to get it off me.

Today I received a mail by recorded delivery (which costs £2.20) personally signed by Mr Joel Glazer referring to me as a "non-assenting shareholder" asking me to flog them my shareholding ASAP. Are you having a laugh! Of course not. It is far to much fun watching all this legal nonsense going on over my one single share. A little while go Marcus suggested I should offer my share in exchange for a season ticket. Seeing the money they are wasting trying to get it off me, maybe I should try it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sunday Morning

When I was a little fella, the amount of pocket money I got was largely determined by what child slavery my parents had observed me doing in that particular week. Obviously I'm not accusing them of putting me down a coal mine or shoving me up a chimney. In fact, anyone knowing my robust proportions would know that I would only have been available for the larger chimneys. Anyway - the point is that one of the forms of torture my parents found acceptable for me was washing the car on a Sunday morning.

Cars used to have so many nooks and crannies that it was a nightmare. Chrome sills and vinyl roofs. My dads Fiat 132ES (so rare that I can't even find it on Google) was so filled with hard to get spots that it used to take me 2 hours to clean.

And yet current cars are so easy that I can't understand why folks pay 6 or 7 quid to get them cleaned badly by a machine at their petrol station. I clean my car about once a month. It takes about 10 minutes to soap it down, then another 10 minutes to clean the alloy wheels and 5 minutes to rinse it off with the hose. Yet in over 2 years we have been living on this road I haven't seen anyone else wash their car on a Sunday (or indeed any other day) ever!

The sad thing is that when I have reason to visit a petrol station on a Sunday I so often see a huge queue of cars waiting for the car wash machine. And so often it is Dad with junior in the passenger seat. I hope junior isn't getting their pocket money for just sitting there :-(

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

There's always one who spoils it for everyone else

In the last few days I have noticed that the traffic and specifically the number of comments on posts at Ports Thoughts has risen by about 25%. Obviously I attributed that to the Interweb community coming to recognize my erudite thinking and entertaining writing. Depressingly I have had to concede though that is nothing to do with the high quality of my modest thoughts, but rather the scourge that is web log spamming. This is very similar to the low life spammers who send unwanted email offering V*I*A*G*R*A or Meds or the scammers who offer to give you 25% of $70 million in exchange for using your bank account.

The difference is that ordinary mail spammers rely on sending millions of messages so if just tiny percent of people respond it is still a sufficiently large amount to make it worth their while (even though it has cause untold hassle for millions of people). Likewise the scammers only need a handful of ignorant greedy redneck George Bush voters to respond to their preposterous scams to make it worth their while. However, in web log comment spamming, the spammer doesn't care if anyone responds to their comment because their objective is not to lure in the people responding, but rather to get more links to their web site which will push their site higher up the search results list in Google with the ultimate aim being to be the number one search result. Why? Well in some cases just ego, but in more sinister cases it is because people tend to trust the higher rated Google results because they assume credibility for a site so high up the list, not realizing this isn't due to loads of reputable sites linking to it, but because of loads of links on web log comments. You can buy software that will automate creating these comments just like the mail spammers tools.

So - the questions is what to do about it. Well the most important thing is to delete the posts so that it won't count as another link for Googles popularity algorithms. The spammers deliberately leave positive comments ("Love your site", "I've bookmarked your site", " You're an excellent writer") to make suckers leave them since they appear flattering. Don't be fooled! The comments are always automated and they don't really read you site.

The real dilemma I face is whether to disable anonymous post facility on Ports Thoughts. If I keep on deleting spam people may think that I am censoring comments which I would never do for legitimate comments. On the other hand I hate the idea of forcing people to register with in order to comment. Is there any other way of stopping this annoyance?

Sunday, August 14, 2005


For many years folks have been telling me how funny the UK sitcom "Spaced" was. It's not like I was ignored them, just that it was something I had never got round to seeing. But having seen and loved the brilliant film "Shaun of the Dead" created by the star and director of Spaced, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, I had made a mental to watch it some time.

Anyway, I was out today buying the wife an anniversary present and as so often happens when I am out buying a present for someone else, I spot something I want instead. In this case The Complete Series One and Two on DVD. I have only managed to watch the first series so far, but as all those folks were saying, it is brilliant. Absolutely awesome. I cannot wait to watch the second series and really hope they make the much promised third.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Test Cricket - majestic sport or pathetic waste of time?

Right. Let's start with the basics. In order to enjoy a sport is it quite helpful to understand what is going on and why. For example if you believe that the most successful tennis players are the ones who grunt loudest then you may well be focusing on the most obvious aspect but you have clearly missed the point. Likewise, if you consider that Formula One is just about cars "racing around in a circle" without taking any account of the tires, drivers, finances, strategy, refueling, teams, reliability, overtaking, politics, safety, management, bluffing, performance, advertising, regulation, tracks and, of course, Bernie Ecclestone, then you have likewise missed the point.

But for some reason, Cricket seems to be the sport that most folks reserve their contempt for. Folks seem to dismiss the skill level required as being similar to those of girls playing rounders. Well I certainly never encountered a rounders game when the ball came at me at 100mph. In rounders people stood at their "bases" rather then being positioned by a Captain to compliment a bowler and the batsman that he is facing. If you think Cricket sucks then please watch coverage of the second 2005 Ashes test. The Australians are the World number one and the England team are the world number two. An amazing game with stunning tension and amazing skill. Sport at its best.

It is really just a shame that one team had to lose, but fortunate that it is Australia who are licking their wounds and England who triumphed. Anyone who thinks test cricket is boring after watching this match must be bonkers.