Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category


Avatar the Musical

January 20, 2010

Clapperboard I would like to create a musical version of James Cameron’s “Avatar”, maybe with some surprise special guests borrowed from Disney movies.

One of the characters would ask “Where do we find the Unobtanium?” in reponse to which Sebastian the crab would  break out into a rousing chorus of “Under the Tree”.

Under the tree, under the tree ...

What do you reckon?

Thought as much.


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Now we know why the Popemobile never gets lost …

June 2, 2009

On a typical weekday morning I drive past Christ Church South Manchester on Parr’s Wood Road, Didsbury, on the way to drop my daughter off at school before completing the journey to work.  My daughter and I usually have a giggle about the inventive (and sometimes extremely silly) church signs they put up.

This is the current offering:

I am very tempted to scrawl an addendum along the bottom:

“And for those seeking guidance from below there’s SATANAV!”


The Daily Ringtone Wiz

January 28, 2009

Or how to get your Windows Mobile phone to use a different ringtone for each day of the week

Vista busy cursor The popular gadget podcast “The Daily Giz Wiz” is famed for its amusing themes and jingles, contributed by talented musicians who are fans of the show.  Regular listeners to the podcast, hosted by Leo Laporte and Dick DeBartolo, will know there are now separate themes for each day of the week, even Saturday and Sunday when the show is not actually on.

The themes are available for download and it struck me as a fun idea to use them for mobile phone ringtones.  Of course, I wanted to have the ringtone change daily to the correct theme for the day.

Picture by Sean Carruthers (by kind permission) – original on Flickr

You can change ringtones manually and for a while I did this every night at the same time as I was checking my alarm settings for the next morning.  It’s not exactly difficult but not very elegant either.

Really, you’d want the ringtone to change automatically.  Unfortunately, there is no facility for this on a Windows Mobile PDA-phone (I have the XDA Stellar which is O2’s rebrand of the HTC TyTN II) and probably no easier to implement on any other mobile platform.

I found myself off on a quest to sort this.  Not because it is important (it is after all just a silly whim) but it was a technological challenge and I don’t like to be beaten.

Suffice to say I found a solution, although I had to cut some code for the first time in years.  But having got there the solution is easy to implement and I am making my ringtone-switching program available for download.  Full instructions for implementing the solution are given below.

To the best of my knowledge this should work on any Windows Mobile phone, even fairly old ones.

Of course, you don’t have to use it with the Daily GizWiz themes.  You can use it with any 7 ringtones of your choice if you like the idea of a different ringtone for each day of the week.

Step 1 – Download the themes and the theme-switcher program

The files are available for download from

The login password is dickyde.

Download all the files to your computer then transfer them to the “My Documents” folder of your Windows Mobile phone (for example using ActiveSync or just opening your WM device in Windows Explorer).

The theme files are simply named for the days of the week: sunday.mp3, monday.mp3, etc.  There were actually two Saturday themes created, a Lueders and a Houghton version.  Dan Lueders‘s theme is funnier but Houghton’s makes for a far better ringtone so that’s the one I’ve included.

If you want to use non-GizWiz ringtones, just rename your chosen mp3 files to sunday.mp3, monday.mp3 etc and ensure they are saved in your phone’s My Documents folder.

The other file is my program, DailyRingTone.exe.  It also needs to go in the My Documents folder of your phone. Don’t trust me that it’s safe to download to your phone – please use your normal virus checker.

All the program does is get the current date/time from the system clock, extract the day of the week then update the ringtone setting in the Windows Registry accordingly.  That is, whenever this program runs it sets the ringtone to the mp3 file with the same name as the current day of the week.

Note that the program does not check that the mp3 file for the day of the week is present in the right folder, although if it isn’t all that happens is that the phone is set to use a default ringtone instead.  The program will run on any ARM processor, v4 or later.

You can test the program by finding it in your phone’s My Documents folder and “clicking” on it with your stylus.  The first time it runs you will need to give permission for it to run.  Do this now, so that the program will already be “authorised” when it runs automatically later under scheduler control.  Look in Settings > Phone and you will see that the ringtone has been changed to the correct day of the week.

Step 2 – Install a scheduler

You need a program to run DailyRingTone.exe every day for you.  There was no point my trying to code this.  There is a free commercial solution (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms).

For PDA-phone users (Pocket PC) you need CT Scheduler lite. Just download and install this in the normal way.  There is a different version for WM smartphones available from the same people, but I don’t have a WM smartphone to test my solution on.

Run the scheduler.  It is very simple to set up. Just add a new event and have it run the DailyRingTone.exe program every day at say 00:01.

And you’re done!

Note that the scheduler program needs to be kept running for the solution to work.  If you reboot your phone or close down the scheduler by mistake you will need to remember to restart CTSchedulerLite or your ringtone will not change automatically.

You can though arrange for the scheduler to restart automatically on a reboot. Find the program CTSchedulerLite in your phone’s Program Files\Connective Tools folder, copy it then “paste shortcut” into your phone’s Windows\Startup folder.

For anyone interested …

This is the main operative code for DailyRingTone.exe.  It may not be the most elegant bit of C++ code  ever written but it works.


unsigned short DayOfWeek;

HKEY hKey;


TCHAR sz0[] = _T(“\\My Documents\\sunday.mp3”);

TCHAR sz1[] = _T(“\\My Documents\\monday.mp3″);

TCHAR sz2[] = _T(“\\My Documents\\tuesday.mp3″);

TCHAR sz3[] = _T(“\\My Documents\\wednesday.mp3″);

TCHAR sz4[] = _T(“\\My Documents\\thursday.mp3″);

TCHAR sz5[] = _T(“\\My Documents\\friday.mp3″);

TCHAR sz6[] = _T(“\\My Documents\\saturday.mp3″);


DayOfWeek = st.wDayOfWeek;

//Sunday = 0, Monday = 1 … Saturday = 6

if (RegOpenKeyEx(HKEY_CURRENT_USER, _T(“ControlPanel\\Sounds\\RingTone0”), 0, KEY_READ, &hKey) == ERROR_SUCCESS){



case 0:

cb = (_tcslen(sz0) + 1) * sizeof(TCHAR);

RegSetValueEx(hKey, _T(“sound”), 0, REG_SZ, (const BYTE *)sz0, cb);


case 1:

cb = (_tcslen(sz1) + 1) * sizeof(TCHAR);

RegSetValueEx(hKey, _T(“sound”), 0, REG_SZ, (const BYTE *)sz1, cb);


case 2:

cb = (_tcslen(sz2) + 1) * sizeof(TCHAR);

RegSetValueEx(hKey, _T(“sound”), 0, REG_SZ, (const BYTE *)sz2, cb);


case 3:

cb = (_tcslen(sz3) + 1) * sizeof(TCHAR);

RegSetValueEx(hKey, _T(“sound”), 0, REG_SZ, (const BYTE *)sz3, cb);


case 4:

cb = (_tcslen(sz4) + 1) * sizeof(TCHAR);

RegSetValueEx(hKey, _T(“sound”), 0, REG_SZ, (const BYTE *)sz4, cb);


case 5:

cb = (_tcslen(sz5) + 1) * sizeof(TCHAR);

RegSetValueEx(hKey, _T(“sound”), 0, REG_SZ, (const BYTE *)sz5, cb);


case 6:

cb = (_tcslen(sz6) + 1) * sizeof(TCHAR);

RegSetValueEx(hKey, _T(“sound”), 0, REG_SZ, (const BYTE *)sz6, cb);




I guess publishing the code makes this an open source (but unlicenced) project.

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The Perils of the Daily Giz Wiz

December 19, 2008

Dick Debartolo read my letter out on Daily Giz Wiz 724.  That’s the third now.

Not sure why, but he seemed to struggle with bits of it. For a start he mixed up commuter and computer. Mind you my awful handwriting has always been a problem over email.

Here is the full text as I sent it to him:


Leo is forever extolling the benefits of podcasts and audible books for commuters, to alleviate the tedium of long journeys and the frustration of congested traffic. That’s all very well, but commuters may, in some situations, be listening to the DGW at peril of their very lives!

I had an uncomfortably close brush with the hereafter listening to DGW 704 while driving home from work last week. You had just read out a listener letter about whether movie stars and other celebrities still go out to war zones to entertain the troops, and Leo suggested that the two of you might go out to Iraq to perform the Daily Giz Wiz for the troops, introducing them to the CartStopper from DGW 701.

That did it for me!  I couldn’t help but visualise rank upon rank of battle hardened soldiers in the audience, with you and Leo trying to get them all enthused about a device designed for young moms, to prevent runaway shopping carts in supermarket parking lots.  The sheer preposterousness of the thought overcame me and tears of uncontrollable laughter started to roll down my face. That wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if I hadn’t been driving at 70mph along a motorway, fast approaching a tricky junction where two busy sections of motorway merge.  It really does help if you can see in those circumstances, and I was barely able to open my eyes because of the laughter.

Heaven knows how I did it, but I managed to navigate the junction and survived to tell the tale.

For the safety of listeners, I urge you to have Dane, as part of his editing duties, check out each episode for dangerously funny moments and insert a warning message where applicable.  Something along the lines of: “Warning! The next few seconds of this podcast contain a dangerously amusing random throwaway quip.  If you are driving at speed, or approaching a difficult junction, you are strongly advised to pause this podcast and resume when in less vulnerable circumstances.”

But hey, I wouldn’t miss a single episode so I’ll just have to be bold and continue to take my life in my hands on my daily commute. The DGW rocks! (specially on Thursdays)


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Traffic lights don’t stay red nearly long enough

September 18, 2008

Most of the time when I’m driving around I curse the slow traffic lights, stuck on red for what feels like aeons, and the half asleep drivers who take ages to get going when the lights eventually turn green. Which makes me no different to most drivers.

It’s a different story though if I have forgotten to connect my iPod to the car stereo.

I enjoy listening to podcasts, audiobooks and music when I drive. But what if I have just dropped someone off somewhere and had not got round to getting my iPod out of my jacket pocket to connect it up? My jacket is on the back seat so I need the car to be stopped, just for a few seconds, so I can stretch over and bring the jacket into the front. My battle-hardened enemy, the red traffic light, can be counted on to come to my aid.

Sure enough, it’s only a matter of time and yes, I’m stopped at a red light. Hand-brake on, turn to grab jacket, where’s it gone, damn it’s fallen into the footwell … and suddenly every car behind me is honking. I look up to find the cars in front of me have vanished and the lights are green. What? When did the lights change?

Dammit, I grit my teeth, grab my jacket and drive on. I now need another stop to get my iPod out of the jacket pocket and plug it into the cable in the glove compartment. Ideally the lights will turn red just as I am coming up to them so I get the whole red part of the cycle to do my connecting up without having to hurry.

But it never works out that way. There I am pootling gently up towards each set of green lights, hoping they’ll change just as I get close. They of course remain resolutely viridian as I amble through with a lengthening queue of frustrated cars behind me convinced I must be a 90 year old woman.

Next time the lights do turn red in front of me they are far too far away, and the cars ahead coast up to a gentle stop, taking forever to form a queue and wasting valuable seconds of red cycle. Why can’t they each drive at full tilt up to the car in front and slam on their brakes at the last minute so the queue forms quickly? To hell with their tyres and brake linings! But just as I screech to a halt the lights are turning green. Blast! And now the drivers aren’t half asleep any more. From dopey morons they’re suddenly imagining themselves to be Lewis Hamiltons, Felipe Massas and Kimi Raikonnens at Monza. I’ve only been stopped 5 seconds, was hurriedly fumbling for the iPod cable in the glovebox and the queue is moving again. A resigned expression comes over my face, I slam the glovebox shut and follow them.

I’m now running out of traffic lights before I join the motorway and find myself condemned to an hour of FM radio drivel …

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Vista source code revealed!

March 3, 2008

Vista busy cursor This is priceless!

TOP SECRET Microsoft(c) Project:Longhorn(TM) SP1
Estimated release date:2008
#include “win95.h”
#include “win98.h”
#include “leopard.h”

char chew_up_some_ram[10000000];

void main () {
while (!CRASHED) {

if (first_time_install) {

if (still_not_crashed) {

if (!DX10GPU()) {
set_graphics(aero, very_slow);
set_mouse(reaction, sometimes);

// printf(”Welcome to Windows 2000″);
// printf(”Welcome to Windows XP”);
printf(”Welcome to Windows Vista”);

while (something) {

while(user_status(DESPERATE_HURRY)) set_cursor(rotating_blue_bagel);


It helps a little if you are familiar with C code but I guess people will get the gist. I added the line in green.

I found this gem here – kudos to whoever wrote it.

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British Airways to rename Fast Bag Drop

February 26, 2008

BA spokesman Adam Pocket yesterday confirmed the rumours of a change of name for Fast Bag Drop, the facility for passengers to check in their hold luggage on arrival at the airport having checked themselves in on-line at home.

From next week, the service will be known by the shorter name of Bag Drop.

As Adam explained: “We’ve kept the main operative parts of the name. We had to do that to avoid confusing passengers. But we had our branding review committee consider whether the name might contain any superfluous or potentially misleading adjectives and they identified the word “fast” as falling into that category”.

“Let’s be honest here”, added Adam, whose middle named we understand is Innes, “there is no time to be saved checking in at home before setting off for the airport if you have luggage to go in the hold. It’s no quicker than the old-fashioned check-in. Passengers now have to produce six different kinds of identification before we’ll take a bag off them. Some fat idiot will have forgotten and the bag drop line will be stuck for ages. We never have enough desks open because the staff are always nipping round the back for a quick fag.”

“The review committee did think long and hard, though. It was suggested that ‘Fast Bag Drop’ is fair enough because we do drop the bags as fast as we can, usually from a height. Another argument for keeping “fast” is that early morning travellers are likely to lose so much time in the drop off line they’ll be too late to go to the Executive Lounge for breakfast, and the baguettes on the plane are so greasy that nobody in their right mind eats them. But both those views were rejected”.

“So we dropped ‘fast’ fast, but haven’t dropped ‘drop’ and we had to hold on to ‘bag’ because the bag’s what goes in the hold. See?”

This post is intended as a humorous, playful response by the author to a one-off suboptimal experience. Everyone loves BA really.

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