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British Expat Newsletter:
1 March 2006

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Computer rage
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

Computer rage was something that people often talked about a while back but you never seem to hear much about it these days. Even BBC News haven’t mentioned it on their website since November 2004.

Does this mean we are all happy using our computers these days? Fat chance. I don’t know about you, but even with the much-vaunted stability of Windows XP (with Service Pack 2, of course) I’m still finding that every so often there’s something going wrong with my computer. Maybe it’s just that we’ve become used to system crashes and various other things going wrong.

Of course, there’s a major difference between home use and use at work. If you throw your own computer out of the window, you’re the one who ends up paying for it. If you’re in the office and you thump your workstation monitor out of frustration, no-one’s going to think too much about it – it’s very unlikely that it will come back to haunt you. On the other hand, wilful damage costs companies money – and if the belt starts pinching, perhaps the people who cost most in terms of IT replacement will come in for special consideration…

When it comes to identifying the causes of computer rage, slow download times seem to be a major culprit. One survey in Scotland found that 45% of 1,000 people surveyed rated this as a pet peeve. The answer? For many people, the switch to broadband has been a real boon.

Speaking for ourselves, we’d have to agree with them. We were on dial-up in India and often suffered slow download times or (even worse) connection failures. A creaky telephone system didn’t help. Our current satellite connection here in Thailand was a major step up, but even that’s erratic. Bad weather or a faulty gateway can mean that we struggle to get a reliable uplink; in the last couple of days we’ve been lucky to get more than five minutes of constant connection at a time. Roll on the days when we can get a proper ADSL connection… In the meantime, we’re being given a timely reminder that pages with lots of large images take an eternity to download, as many Internet users in the developing world can vouch for from daily experience.

Dr Shona Falconer, a psychologist at Dundee University, said: “Feelings of stress and frustration arise when the gap between our expectations and actual experience on the internet is ever widening.” These feelings of frustration can boil over into violence – with disastrous results. It’s not uncommon for people to throw bits of their computer (or even their whole computer, if it’s small enough) against a wall or out of a window. One guy in the US took it a bit further, though – he got so angry with his laptop he took out a gun and shot it!

Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us about it?

Virtual Snacks

It’s not always the computer’s fault – the user is often to blame. Have a look at some stupidity:
Rinkworks.com: Computer Stupidities

Try this one for a bit of fun and some interesting trivia. All the laws of Murphy in one place.
Murphys-laws.com

Here’s a nostalgia site which was recommended by one of our regulars – thousands of nostalgic memories and photographs from all over Britain, submitted by people from all walks of life and all ages.
Yourmemories.co.uk

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • ancient greek term penis cock
  • pink pumpkin
  • man with suitcase caricature
  • whats inside a tennis ball
  • thailand spam drugged drink
  • blue whale penis
  • british mom thumbnails
  • grimsby most unromantic place in the country
  • gospel of st. thomas scroll nag hamadi 1945
  • ringophone heights
  • a comic heist
  • seven habits profile

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.”
– IBM Maintenence Manual, 1925

Joke

(Warning – it’s a long one!)

The Borg versus Microsoft – “Star Trek Lost Episodes” transcript

Picard: “Mr LaForge, have you had any success with your attempts at finding a weakness in the Borg? And Mr Data, have you been able to access their command pathways?”

Geordi: “Yes, Captain. In fact, we found the answer by searching through our archives on late twentieth-century computing technology.”

(Geordi presses a key, and a logo appears on the computer screen)

Riker (looks puzzled):”What in the world is ‘Microsoft’?”

Data (turns to answer): “Allow me to explain. We will send this program, for some reason called ‘Windows’, through the Borg command pathways. Once inside their root command unit, it will begin consuming system resources at an unstoppable rate.”

Picard: “But the Borg have the ability to adapt. Won’t they alter their processing systems to increase their storage capacity?”

Data: “Yes, Captain. But when ‘Windows’ detects this, it creates a new version of itself known as an ‘upgrade’. The use of resources increases exponentially with each iteration. The Borg will not be able to adapt quickly enough. Eventually all of their processing ability will be taken over and none will be available for their normal operational functions.”

Picard: “Excellent work. This is even better than that ‘unsolvable geometric shape’ idea.”

(Fifteen minutes later)

Data: “Captain, we have successfully installed the ‘Windows’ in the command unit and as expected it immediately consumed 85% of all resources. We however have not received any confirmation of the expected ‘upgrade’.”

Geordi: “Our scanners have picked up an increase in Borg storage and CPU capacity to compensate, but we still have no indication of an ‘upgrade’ to compensate for their increase.”

Picard: “Data, scan the history banks again and determine if there is something we have missed.”

Data: “Sir, I believe their is a reason for the failure in the ‘upgrade’. Apparently, the Borg have circumvented that part of the plan by not sending in their registration cards.”

Riker: “Captain we have no choice. Requesting permission to begin emergency escape sequence 3F…”

Geordi (excited): “Wait, Captain I just detected their CPU capacity has suddenly dropped to 0%!”

Picard: “Data, what do your scanners show?”

Data: “Apparently the Borg have found the internal ‘Windows’ module named ‘Solitaire’ and it has used up all the CPU capacity.”

Picard: “Let’s wait and see how long this ‘solitaire’ can reduce their functionality.”

(Two hours pass)

Riker: “Geordi, what’s the status on the Borg?”

Geordi: “As expected, the Borg are attempting to re-engineer to compensate for increased CPU and storage demands. But I have set up our closest deep space monitor beacon so that each time they successfully increase resources, it will transmit more ‘Windows’ modules from something called the ‘Microsoft fun-pack’.”

Picard: “How much time will that buy us?”

Data: “Current Borg solution rates allow me to predicate an interest time span of 6 more hours.”

Geordi: “Captain, another vessel has entered our sector.”

Picard: “Identify.”

Data: “It appears to have markings very similar to the ‘Microsoft’ logo.”

(Over the speakers)
“THIS IS ADMIRAL BILL GATES OF THE MICROSOFT FLAGSHIP MONOPOLY. WE HAVE POSITIVE CONFIRMATION OF UNREGISTERED SOFTWARE IN THIS SECTOR. SURRENDER ALL ASSETS AND WE CAN AVOID ANY TROUBLE. YOU HAVE 10 SECONDS.”

Data: “The alien ship has just opened its forward hatches and released thousands of humanoid shaped objects.”

Picard: “Magnify forward viewer on the alien craft.”

Riker: “Good God, captain! Those are humans floating straight toward the Borg ship with no life support suits! How can they survive the tortures of deep space?!”

Data: “I don’t believe that those are humans, sir. If you will look closer, I believe you will see that they are carrying something recognised by twenty-first century man as doeskin leather briefcases, and wearing Armani suits.”

Riker and Picard (together, horrified): “Lawyers!!”

Geordi: “It can’t be! All the lawyers were rounded up and sent hurtling into the sun in 2017 during the Great Awakening!”

Data: “True, but apparently some must have survived.”

Riker: “They have surrounded the Borg ship and are covering it with all types of papers.”

Data: “I believe that is known in ancient vernacular as ‘red tape’. I understand that it often proves fatal.”

Riker: “They’re tearing the Borg to pieces!”

Picard: “Turn off the monitors. I can’t stand to watch. Not even the Borg deserve that!”

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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