Archive for the ‘Humour’ 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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Tweeted off!

January 20, 2010

Vista busy cursor The most annoying thing about Twitter being “over capacity” (down) is that you can’t tweet about it being down.

It’s a natural reaction. I find it therapeutic to consign my milder moans to Twitter. So my followers think I’m a grouch. That’s OK.

But when it comes to mild moans about Twitter being down I have nowhere else to go but my tech blog. And no, I’m not going to sign up to tumblr or plurk just to have somewhere to go to complain about Twitter.

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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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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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You thought I was kidding about BA’s Bag Drop!

September 4, 2008

Being brutally honest, so did I.  My post of 26 February suggesting that British Airways were planning to rename their Fast Bag Drop to Bag Drop without the “Fast”, was a modest attempt at humour.  A personal whinge about how long it actually took to drop off your luggage.

Obviously BA read my blog and took the complaint to heart, or someone took them to task under the Trade Descriptions Act, because I now note that BA bag drop is now called just that, Bag Drop.  No claim to be “fast” anywhere in sight.

There is now though a Premium Bag Drop for use by gold/silver Executive Club members etc.  I could in principle use that, but yesterday morning when I flew Manchester to Heathrow there was only one Premium desk and that had the longest queue.  Oh, well.

No doubt we can expect another statement shortly from Adam Pocket.

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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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Can anyone explain this please … ?

September 24, 2007

Vista busy cursor Dark and mysterious are the ways of the blogosphere. Clearly someone took an interest in my recent post about the poor mix between secure home wifis and visitors with laptops wanting casual Internet access.

But why have it machine translated into Urdu then back to English? Look at this and explain it to me.

A brief example:

“Meantime the section changes poor my son’s wifi unification – he was inferior than gruntled”

I don’t think my son will be at all gruntled to find himself described as any sort of inferior. The cheek of it!

I can only guess that my post appeared, after machine translation, in some foreign language blog aggregator site then someone saw it and had it machine-translated back for reposting on an English language site, namely Hard Disk Recovery, clearly not realising that there was an English original.

Or maybe someone’s just ‘avin a larf.

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