Kubuntu 12.10 and VMware Workstation 9.0 kernel panic

Yesterday I upgraded my laptop from Kubuntu 12.04LTS to 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal”.  One important change here is the move from Linux kernel 3.2 to 3.5.  The upgrade went smoothly enough but, upon reboot, I got a kernel panic from one of the vmware workstation modules when it loaded.

To fix, do the following:

After the upgrade, reboot to your 3.2 kernel (hold left shift down during boot to get the GRUB prompt), open a console session and then:

sudo chmod -x /etc/init.d/vmware*
sudo reboot

Let your system boot normally this time and you shouldn’t see the kernel panic.  Open another console session and then:

cd /tmp
wget http://communities.vmware.com/servlet/JiveServlet/download/2103172-94260/vmware9_kernel35_patch.tar.bz2
tar xfj  vmware9_kernel35_patch.tar.bz2
cd vmware9_kernel3.5_patch/
sudo ./patch-modules_3.5.0.sh 
sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/vmware*
sudo vmware-modconfig --console --install-all

All done.


No writing nasty things about the 2012 London Olympics, okay?

As mentioned on Twitter, in the Terms of Use of the London 2012 Olympics Web site is this:

Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorized association between an organization, business, goods, or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organizations (or our or their activities, products, or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory, or otherwise objectionable manner.

So, just to be completely clear, the 2012 London Olympics is a disgraceful waste of taxpayer’s money at a time of austerity in public spending.  The corporate sponsorship and outrageous curtailment of freedoms inflicted on visitors is un-British and a national disgrace.  I can think of no other occasions where so much public money has been splurged with so little accountability. Public scrutiny will be curtailed too, behind the sham of a private company.

Oh, and how can you call it the London games when chunks of it are happening in other countries?


On the size of the solar system and manned space travel

Today a few news outlets picked up the confirmation of the discovery of an Earth-like planet in the habital zone of a star 600 light years away, but the closest such planet discovered so far.  This has created an excited buzz as indeed it should.  Life certainly exists elsewhere in the universe, and we know a planet like ours can sustain life quite well, albeit grudgingly at times, so finding a planet like our own “just” 600 light years away is indeed exciting.

Well, is it? Alas I am a bit meh about the whole thing.

Let’s assume that there’s a civilisation as advanced as ours there.  The bads news is that we’re never going to visit them, and we’re never going to establish meaningful communications with them.  Let’s look at the best possible timeline.

A “Hello Kepler 22-b” signal sent today will reach them no earlier them December 5th 2611 so we’ve got some finger tapping to do between now and then.  And we’re assuming they’re looking for a signal, and spot it, and can decode it. If they do all that, and send us back engineering plans for their FTL communications device right away, then we’ll be getting those no sooner than December 3211, twelve centuries from now.  And then we merely have to build a device designed by an alien species who almost certainly won’t be using the same engineering principles we are.

Remember what happened to the Mars Climate Orbiter?

Okay, so while we’re waiting, let’s send a ship up there.  Twelve centuries is plenty of time to develop space exploration technology.  At some point during this maybe we will figure how to build a useful FTL communications device, in which case we can beam the specifications over to Kepler 22-b.  It’ll be at least a 600 year wait for them to get back to us, but no harm in trying.

If we’re sending a ship, and we don’t have FTL yet, manning it isn’t really an option. At light speed, it’s a 600 year trip, at half light speed it’s 1200 years, and so on.  People just don’t live that long so we’d be looking at building a generation ship, currently way beyond our current technology, and beyond anything we’re likely to achieve in the next century at least.

Unmanned is easier, and we’re good at that.  We’ve had probes in space for decades that are still working just fine.  None of the complexities of life-support, all that’s needed is a nice big nuclear plant for electricity and a nice big antenna for talking back to Mother Earth. Cunning use of orbital slingshots, especially using the gas giants, means we could get this baby really moving through space.  With the nations of the world behind the project, we could launch this inside a couple of years carrying all the knowledge we dare share with the Keplians. And then, again, we sit back and wait, and work on that FTL communications device.

The fastest speed attained by a probe launched from Earth is about 157,000 mph.   This was achieved by Helios probes using the Sun’s gravity well.  We have a pretty good grasp of orbital mechanics, so I don’t expect it’d be too difficult to design a slingshot approach to the Sun that would take our probe, accelerate it to this sort of speed and then send it in exactly the right direction to meet up with Kepler 22-b in a few years time.  That was sarcasm.  We have zero experience of sending probes into interstellar space, the existence of a planet tells us nothing about how to navigate a probe through distant gravity fields to get there.  Despite the moon’s gravitational interaction with the Earth being quite well understood, Apollo spacecraft on trips to and from the moon routinely had to use course-correction burns to make sure they attained successful moon orbit and earth re-entry.

So we do build our probe, and we do manage to find a course to send it on its way at 260,000 (we got better) km/h.  What next?  Well what happens is we wait.  A long time.

The Solar system is big, much bigger than most people realise.  At the center is our Sun and one of the furthest significant objects from it we know about is Pluto.  Worst case, Pluto is 48.871AU from the Sun, that’s roughly 7.38 billion kilometers. Time to get there at our probe’s speed is 28,120 hours, or 3 years.  Not too shabby.  Alas Pluto is not the edge of the solar system.

Voyager 1 will beat our probe to interstellar space.  It’s currently about 2.5 times further away fom the sun than Pluto is. Being generous, launched today, our probe will get there around 2020. Voyager 1 was launched in 1977. So off into the inky black and on to Kepler 22-b.

Alas this is still not the edge of the solar system.

It it theorised that there is a sphere of leftover junk from the formation of the solar system called the Oort Cloud.  It’s thought to be where some of our long-period comets come from.  Recall that Pluto, at worst was about 49AU from the Sun?  Well the Oort Cloud is thought to be 50,000AU from the Sun, and marks the edge of the Sun’s gravitational influence.  Conveniently, this is quite close to the distance of 1 light year. Less conveniently, this means our probe is going to take the thick end of ten millenia to make it this far at best speed. Keppler 22-b is 600 light years away, so a mere 5 and a bit million years in space for our probe.

I would like to think that mankind will travel between the stars.  But it’s not going to happen in my lifetime, nor is it likely to in the next several centuries.  Looking out into the universe to see what we can learn is great science but, really, we need to focus on making sure we survive as a species, something we seem determined not to do.

We should have had a permanent manned presence on the moon by now.  We have taken all the hard work done to get us to the moon and allowed it to be washed away.  With the end of the space shuttle programme, the country that worked hardest to put a man on the moon now has no way of putting a man in orbit. And we watched and allowed that to happen.

I consider myself to be an orphan of the Apollo project.


A shopper’s tale

I swing the car round the roundabout and through the switch back that leads into the car park.  This is done at 3mph due to the enormously oversized MPV in front which ignores the roundabout entirely and has trouble negotiating the bends.  The MPV indicates right and then drives straight on taking the next right instead, ignoring the No Entry sign.

I take the correct right and swan up and down the car park lanes looking for a free spot, I eventually find one, after removing the stray shopping trolley, and park.  I walk back across to car park to the main entrance smiling slightly at the sight of a traffic jam around the MPV as it tries to park in a space between two badly parked cars. It eventually squeezes in, and one very small woman gets out.

I mentally flip a coin: basket or small trolley.  Tails, small trolley it is. I walk to the main trolley corral and find it empty, I wander to the nearest trolley deposit area and spend a few minutes finding one with steering that attempts to obey the laws of physics.  With my new friend pushed gallantly ahead I walk back to the main entrance.  Fifty meters later the wheels lock solid, immobilising the trolley and tarnishing my soul with the resulting mental swearwords.  I head towards the baskets to find none available and proceed down the checkouts looking for one that’s been abandoned.  Success!  I walk back from checkout 18 to 1, and proceed up the travelator to the upper floor where CDs, DVDs and other housewares are kept.

I walk on to the moving belt and stride upwards.  A woman ahead has parked her trolley right in the center, “excuse me”, and I breathe in and try to squeeze past.  The next obstacle is a small family.  Husband, wife, trolley and 3 crack-fuelled pixie-demons coated in the sticky remains of high-sugar, high-caffeine bribes to stop them sucking the souls out of passers by.  I decide it’s not worth the risk and wait as the belt takes us up to the first floor and the speed of a snail swimming through a bucket of treacle. The pixie-demons emit unspeakable slime.

Looking round at the signs overhead, I spy the section I’m looking for, it’s at the far end of the next aisle.  I turn the corner into the lane and am confronted by the living dead.  A hugely obese woman takes step and slow painful step towards me pushing a trolley, mouth open and respirating heavily.  An item takes her interest; she parks her trolley sideways across the aisle and stares vacantly into the middle distance when suddenly the sounds of souls in extreme external agony come from the empty air.  She answers her mobile phone and her deep concentration of the ensuing conversation means she fails to notice the queue of traffic backing up behind her.  I take the long way round.

The trip back to the food floor is easier; I slalom past the trolleys and manage not to cause serious injury to the kids Heelying down with me.  Must try harder.  I consult my list, just 6 items required but scattered around the store.  I need a plan.

I mentally map out a route that takes me past everything I need, but avoiding the busiest junctions.  Let’s go. Dairy proves no problem, nor the fresh meat, nor the veg.  I narrowly avoid splintering my knee on a trolley being piloted by a 6 year old boy and duck into the Asian food section to be confronted by the entire Indian nation, in miniature.

After a moment, I revise my estimate of the number of children present down from several millions to about 12.  I soon learn to appreciate the training they have been given.  I move to one side and two or three of them cunningly move to block me whilst maintaining the air of innocence. I break right to avoid them and nearly trip over another child who’s moved in to flank me.  Only acrobatics save the kid from the lifelong mutilation of having the wires of a shopping basket imprinted on its face.  I grab the item I need and head for the last section required: wine and beer.

It’s quiet, too quiet.  I hastily pick up the bottle of wine I need and head for the checkout.  With just a few items in my basket I head to the Baskets Only queue and am delighted to find a till with just two people in it, one being served and one waiting.

I should have spotted the trap a mile away.  I am such a fool.

The chap waiting has been there so long that he’s near fossilised.  I peer over his shoulder to examine the situation and glance into someone’s Hell.

An evil harpy crows over the contents of her shopping, picking an item out at random and asking “So how much is this one?” and then “It never said that on the shelf!” after the till jockey blips the item through once more.  “Well I don’t want it, or this one”.  This continues.

Hideous as it is, you have to admire the sheer malignance here.  When shopping on a budget, don’t bother looking at the prices carefully,  just jam as much as you can into a basket, then hit the “10 items or less” queue and debate it with the poor sap manning the checkout. Brilliant.

Several centuries pass, my turn arrives.

“This is buy one get one free.” I awake from my hibernation.  “Hmmm?”   “It’s buy one get one free, and you only have one.”  “That’s okay.”  “I can go get one for you.”  “NOOOOOO! I mean, No, thanks”, avoiding another millennium rooted to the spot. I pay, decline the Computers For Fools vouchers, I leave.

I return to the car and on my way find that a BMW X5 has parked next to the MPV mentioned earlier.  It’s parked by the MPV’s driver side door and I estimate the very small woman will need to slim down to nanometers to get into her car.  It’s tempting to hang around to see the resulting argument but I think I’ve had enough fun for one day.  I go home and start to prepare dinner, chopping the onions mask my tears.

HSBC security nonsense

As has been widely reported, HSBC have rolled out a new security system for personal Internet banking. The requires you to have an Internet Banking ID, a memorable passphrase and a PIN for a small one-time code pad.  I already carry one HSBC token around with me, I have no wish to carry another. The new system is cumbersome beyond belief.  Here’s why:

Worst case logging on to my HSBC business account:

  1. Enter username that I chose.
  2. Enter password that I chose.
  3. Press button on RSA key, enter number into web browser.
  4. I am now logged in.

Worst case logging on to my HSBC personal account:

  1. Enter account number.
  2. Entry sort code.
  3. Enter date of bith.
  4. Enter 3 arbitrary characters from my security number.
  5. Obtain Internet Banking (IB) number.
  6. Enter IB number.
  7. Enter passphrase.
  8. Type a different PIN into OTP pad.
  9. Take number from OTP pad and enter into browser.
  10. I am now logged in.

At best, this process can be shortened to start at step 6. HSBC recommend not writing anything down, your IB number is “IB” then 8ish digits not in any way related to your account number. When setting this up I was asked to set two security questions and answers.

Select from drop-down “father’s middle name”

> John

< Error.

Select from drop-down “pet’s name”

> Lili

< Error.

> Lililili

< Okay!

Aaarrrrrrgghh. So I now have to remember incorrect answers to security questions.  Sure, that’ll work.  I contact HSBC:

Me> Can I use my HSBC business banking token for my personal account?


Me> Can I revert to not using this token at all?


Me> I will close my account if you cannot turn this nonsense off.

HSBC> Sorry, nothing we can do.


After 16 years with HSBC, I am no longer one of their customers.


Hardware review: FOSCAM FI8918W wireless & wired IP camera

My daughter, Isabella, is at an age where she’s just starting to get mobile.  She can now turn from being on her back to being on her front and cannot often make it back again.   When she’s in bed this is a problem because I cannot tell the cry of “I’m stuck, come and turn me over” from “I’m not asleep yet, maybe yelling will get me some company”.

Some research and a poll conducted on the Dolphin Fan Mailing List suggest that the FOSCAM F18918W camera might do all I need at a price that seemed quite reasonable.

I ordered the camera online direct from FOSCAM, obtaining a small discount by using the coupon code “wifi1001”. UK first class delivery is free. It arrived the next day. Opening the box, you get the camera, two power adaptors (EU and UK), an Ethernet cable, a wireless aerial, a mounting bracket, screws & rawl plugs, an install CD and a small booklet of installation instructions.  I attached the wireless aerial, connected the network cable, plugged in the power and watched the camera perform its power-on calisthenics.

I popped the CD into my CD-ROM drive, and here’s where problem 1 occurs.  The CD is not recognised as being a CD.  I shrug, open a new browser tab and head to the UK FOSCAM website expecting to be able to download all the stuff I need.  Every attempt to download stuff results in me being asked to register. I do so, sighing slightly. I eventually get the link, click and I am diverted to a 404 page in a pictorial language I don’t recognise.  I notice the path is “/down/”, perhaps they meant “/download/”.  No, they didn’t.  I go back to the UK site and hunt for more links, none are forthcoming, so I call the number listed on the website.

After perhaps a dozen rings, the phone is picked up by someone with an American accent and the sound quality suggests IP telephony and that they most likely are really in America.  I explain the situation, asking for a download link for the setup tool.  The chap helpfully directs me to the “.us” website and leads me to a page where I can get setup instructions for setting up port forwarding for various brands of routers so that you can view your camera over the Internet.  I restate the problem more clearly, I don’t have the setup tools to configure the camera at all in the first place, and I’m not asking about routers, I just want to know where I can get the tools from.

He understands.  I am asked to send an email to a gmail account [sic]  asking for the tools to be mailed to me.  As he’s explaining this I locate a link on the .us website and download the tools.  They’re in a .rar file.  For some reason that always makes me think of warez puppies.

The tool installs, starts, and almost immediately shows me a list containing my camera with the address it has DHCPd.  I head to the URL and am confronted with a login screen.  I look for the login details in the pamphlet and find problem 2.  The login details are printed in black and white, but are printed over a black and white photo in the manual.  I know the username begins with “a” and it has no password.  It’s not “a” or “administrator”, it turns out to be “admin”.  I am admitted to the web GUI.

First task is to get it on the wireless LAN.  This proves tricky.  Clicking on the Scan button results in nothing, eventually I work out that changing the encryption protocol and clicking scan gets me an AP list.  I want to assign it a static IP address via DHCP.  I look for the wireless MAC address.  It is not listed anywhere in the GUI.  I examine the labels on the camera itself, one is the MAC address that my router says it gave an IP to, and matches the URL presented by the setup tool.  There is a second MAC address on the label, I take this to be the wireless interface MAC.  I am wrong.

I should mention annoyance 1 at this point.  Every change in setting requires you to reboot the camera.

I eventually manage to get the wireless interface to connect to my home wifi network; the MAC address is entirely different.  I sort out a static address for it and set up port forwarding.  And here’s where it gets good.

The camera does everything you would expect.  The remote control is brilliant, the sound lovely and clear, the night vision is great.  The pain of setting it up is entirely forgiven as it now Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin.  The image quality is perfectly good for baby monitoring.  The send-email-on-movement works perfectly well, the slightly ENGRISH menus will not get on your nerves at all.  The night vision lights are quite dim anyway and can be switched on and off remotely (as can the network lights) meaning the unit is barely noticeable even in the near total blackout of a nursery.

Despite the negatives above, I’m very happy with this camera. If you’re looking for an addition to your baby watching arsenal, you will do well to buy one of these.



Hardware review: Samsung Galaxy S2

I was terribly excited by the pre-release information about the Samsung Galaxy S2.  The photos and specs released showed it to be attractive, well featured and light.  Certainly everything I read suggested it would give the iPhone 4 a run for its money and might even give the upcoming iPhone 5 some competition.  I ordered the new handset on an upgrade deal from Orange and breathlessly awaited delivery.

The phone arrives in a box not at all dissimilar to that of an iPhone.  You get the handset, battery, data cable, charger cable and some leaflets.  Extracting the handset from the plastic wrap I immediately noticed the lightness and admired the shape of the phone.  It’s flatter than my iPhone 3GS but a tiny bit wider and longer. I flipped the phone to open the cover and install the battery and, sadly, here’s where the love affair starts to go wrong.

The rear cover is both large and flimsy, and certainly not splash proof.  Removing it had me gritting my teeth fearing I might snap it.  It came off much more easily than I expected due to it being held in by tiny sub-millimetre plastic flanges.  Examining them screamed “FRAGILE!” at me and I mentally added “Substantial case” to my shopping list. Installing the SIM and battery was as easy as you would expect. I crunched the panel back on, no proper insertion angle, just poke two corners in as best you can then press all the way round.

Powering the phone on for the first time put the love affair back on track.  The display is gorgeous.  It’s larger than the iPhone 3GS, nicer looking than iPhone 4, but proportionally takes up about the same percentage of the front of the handset.  The material is called Gorilla Glass and it’s beautifully smooth and slightly cooler than you would expect to the touch.  The surface does seem to take and hold fingerprints more than the iPhone’s, but this was a very hot and sticky day so maybe it was literally just me.

I have not used an Android-based phone before, for the past 2 years I have had an iPhone and before that I had a Blackberry.  I have possibly simply got used to the “Apple” way of doing things.  I am very willing and able to mock Apple products when I feel it’s needed, but one thing Apple usually get right is their user interface.  The S2’s interface is literally the worst I have experienced, a few of the gripes are:

  • No way to group icons.  On the iPhone I drop one icon on top of another, they become a group.
  • No easily accessible app switcher, you have to go menu hunting.
  • All the fonts are way too big, the smallest size is 12pt.
  • Text auto completion is both awful and broken (see below).
  • Pinch-zoom works in some places but not in others.
  • The supplied SMS and email apps are just plain ugly.
  • The email app subscribes me to all my IMAP folders, all 70 or 80, when I would normally want about 6. No unsubscribe option.
  • No strike-out-to-delete-motion facility for emails and text messages.
  • No equivalent to the double-tap-the-title-bar to scroll to the top function.

Some of the stuff mentioned above can be fixed by buying better pieces of software.  However for a £500 piece of kit, i would expect it to perform all the basic functions well and then have pieces of software I can then opt to buy to make things better.  I don’t expect to have to pay to make things work at the bare minimum standard I would expect for £500.

The text auto completion function deserves an entire paragraph of scorn.  Many of you will have used the official Twitter application for your iPhone.  You start a new tweet and you get your onscreen keyboard and an empty text box.  You start typing.  On the iPhone, when it wants to suggest a word you get a balloon come up near the word and you can tap to complete, or tap the X on the corner of the balloon to get rid of the suggestion. On the S2 you start typing and, when a word is suggested, suddenly the text box jumps up the screen and a set of words appear underneath in a really big font.  You type some more, maybe the words disappear and the box jumps back, you type another letter and it jumps again.  I started typing a word, “street’s” I think it was and promptly got into a fight with the predictive text as it doesn’t really seem to understand apostrophes.  We ended up in a bizarre state where it was suggesting “streetsunamis” [sic] and every attempt I made to delete and retype resulted in it not letting me type the word “street’s”.  Arrrrgh.  Let’s turn that off then.

I figured that maybe all the crap littering the phone (like the games that let you play once for free, then want money) might be an Orange branding thing.  So I figured I would wipe the phone and reinstall the OS, thus expunging any Orangey nonsense and letting me see the phone as its manufacturer intended.  Samsung has a piece of software called “Kies” which is kind of like iTunes but more Samsungy.  I went to the Samsung website, downloaded the 77MB installer and installed it.  I then ran it for the first time, without the phone plugged in, and it said “this isn’t the latest version of Kies” and would I like to update.  Blink.  Okay. More stuff is downloaded and installed.

I run the app, it seems to be happy and then I connect the phone.  Except I don’t, because it’s at this point that it’s not a mini USB connector as I had thought and I don’t have the right cable.  Determined not to be dismayed I go and buy the right sodding cable at PC World comedy prices.  I plug the phone in.  “MTP USB device failed to install”, or words to that effect.  I hadn’t rebooted since installing Kies so I do so.  I start Kies, plug the phone in and… same problem.  Googling the error makes me very sad indeed.  At this point I give up.  I simply want a phone that works and syncs stuff to my PC, I don’t want to dick around running a utility to locate files that might have names somehow incompatible with my running OS, or mess around with registry settings because I’m running a 64 bit operating system in the year 2011.  If I can’t run Kies, I can’t wipe the phone and reinstall it.

I’ve called Orange and arranged to return the handset.  It’s a lovely piece of hardware let down by awful third-rate software.


Hardware review: King of Shaves Azor 5 razor & AlphaGel

I’ve long been a fan of King of Shaves shaving products.  Originally they just produced excellent shaving oils but, a few years ago, branched out into producing a more complete set of men’s shaving accessories including the Azor razor, then the Azor M and, recently, the Azor 5.  Their main selling point is price.  They are significantly cheaper than other cartridge-based razor products, most notably those from Gillette.

I converse with the owner of King of Shaves on Twitter, Will King.  When the Azor M was released I swapped him a razor and gel for an antibodyMX t-shirt.  When the Azor 5 was released, I didn’t manage to blag a free upgrade but he did say that he’d send me some free blades if I wrote a review, good or bad.  So here you go, Will 🙂

I picked up my Azor 5 and some gel from Tesco.  The first thing to notice is the price, it was over a fiver cheaper than the equivalent offering from Gillette.  The packaging is as nice and shiny as you would expect from a modern product but, as someone who recycles a lot, it did seem like less could have been used without risking damage to the product.  You get the razor handle, 3 blades and a rather severely plain plastic holder.

The original Azor razor handle was quite plasticy and felt a bit flimsy when using it.  The Azor M greatly improved this, it was much heavier as it had metallic elements.  The Azor 5 handle is almost exactly the same, the plastic inserts being a different colour and it having a KoS logo embossed on it.  It’s the same weight, same feel and, importantly, the older Azor M cartridges work just fine with it.

As the “5” suggests, there are 5 blades in each cartridge compared to 4 on the Azor M. However what hasn’t been done is cramming the blades in to the same amount of space.  The spacing between each blade appears to be identical to the Azor M.  As most guys will know, one problem with the early multi-blade razors was that they would clog and jam quite easily, greatly shortening the useful life of the cartridge.

Put to work the Azor 5 performs as well as I would expect from a KoS razor.  Those blades are sharp and have little difficulty in dealing with 1 or 2 day old stubble.  Combined with KoS AlphaGel the shaving experience is smooth and low friction. With a new blade there’s almost no noticeable drag meaning no irritation or razor burn and I love the slightly antiseptic smell of the gel.  My usual shaving interval is somewhere between 1 and 2 weeks, and my stubble is quite thick and heavy.  Faced with that, the Azor 5 does no better than the Azor M; cutting through the longer hair means I had to frequently de-clog the blade.  That has been true of every multi-blade razor I’ve ever used, so it’s not specifically a problem with the Azor 5.

I am not clean shaven, I have a goatee beard and usually sport sideburns.  I found shaping the beard to be trickier and it’s harder to precisely cut the sideburns to an equal length.  The extra blades mean you’re not quite sure where the cutting starts.  An earlier Gillette razor sported a single thicker blade on the rear that made this a lot easier.  People who shave more frequently than I do will probably have less difficulty with this.

Overall this is a great shaving system and excellent value.  The replacement cartridges are much cheaper than the competition and are as sharp and long lasting.  My only slight niggle, and this is very slight, and that is I can’t buy them at my wholesaler, Costco.  I would also like to see the gel available in larger packs.  The size is convenient for my travel bag but I think I’d get better value from a larger sized pack I can leave on the bathroom shelf at home.




Unethical email marketing from ComShop / digitcom.co.uk

Just a few minutes ago I received an unsolicited commercial email from ComShop / DigitCom. It was a multipart text/html email and I have reposted the HTML part verbatim here.

I don’t recall ever having bought anything from these guys, but I buy a lot of stuff online, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt and clicked on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page.  That’s when I started to get a little suspicious, the URL I was being sent to contained no information that could identify me to the site.  The unsubscribe link points here and, just on the offchance it disappears, I’ve also put it here (the image does not display).  Look at the source, it’s just static HTML.

In other words, their unsubscribe link does nothing at all, whilst claiming you have been unsubscribed.  That’s breathtakingly deceitful.

Enjoy the publicity guys.