Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shorty swing my way

Game Group just got slammed 11% today. My favorite short trade is now at just 58p. If my virtual profits were real, I'd be a millionaire. The reality is more sobering.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

24 hours of vitamin d news

Some news headlines from the past 24 hours:

Low vitamin D linked to schizophrenia
Proper Vitamin D Intake May Lead To Healthy Weight Loss
HealthWatch: Vitamin D And Asthma
Vitamin D could be tested as MS aid

I will be immortal soon!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I have seen the future ... it's in lower case and the edges are rounded

This new PWC (sorry, I mean't 'pwc' logo) is pretty nasty work. It's no great surprise, for this is the era of the lower case logo. I think the new era web companies kicked it off in earnest with the flikrs, skypes, and twitters, but then came the old schoolers, leaving their caps behind (xerox, next, cineworld, etc). I think the world is getting all soft and fluffy and losing its way. I can see it in corporate language, where 'soft' is the new weak, and business people now have 'conversations' instead of meetings. Somebody pass me the sick bucket.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gilliam's Quixote stalls

Infernal tarnations. Gilliam's Don Quixote has stalled as the movie's financial backers have pulled out. My favoured approach to take the story to the screen would be for either the BBC or HBO to make it into a big-budget mini-series, as there is simply too much subject matter and wondrous dialogue to do any justice to the source material.

"One of the things," here observed Don Quixote, "that ought to give most pleasure to a virtuous and eminent man is to find himself in his lifetime in print and in type, familiar in people's mouths with a good name; I say with a good name, for if it be the opposite, then there is no death to be compared to it."

New Forest wild horse photo

Too much tech talk of late, so here's a recent pic I took with my Pentax H90 ... that's a "Pentax H90" ya hear!

New Forest wild horse

Tecchie update

Blast darn n flarn. I've had to uninstall Microsoft's Security Essentials software. There was something about it that my system didn't like. The blasted thing slowed my machine down both when it was updating and when it was running. For most users, it is a cracking and light piece of code, but for me, not so much. I have scuttled back to AVG and am happy again.

Elsewhere, my machine takes almost twice as long to boot up now that I've installed XP SP3 and Office 2010 (SP3 did is the culprit). It's bearable, but it's also annoying that an 'improvement' is anything but.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 employee programme

I've just installed a version of Microsoft Office 2010 which I snagged at work for a mere £8 (part of an employee offer) and have discovered that it's the Professional Edition that retails at over £320. On the one hand, it sounds like the bargain of the century. On the other hand, for the majority of the time this behemoth will serve as little more than a very expensive 'to do' list maker.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Game Group continued

Just looked at the stock market, and it's staged a nice little rally. But who didn't join in on the ride? Surprise, surprise, it's everybody' darling stock Game Group. The company is languising at 65p. I fail to see how a bricks and mortar company can exist where the core product is pure bits and bites and for that reason alone I believe this company will be following the buggy whip down the vortex of antiquity: essential, nice to have, quaint, expensive, unnecessary ... poof!

IBM Thinkpad wifi disconnects with XP SP3

What a waste of an evening. Here's how the time was spent.

I got hold of MS Office 2010 for a few bucks and was as happy as a very happy Larry. Okay, so it needed XP to be on Service Pack 3, but how hard could that be, I thought? Well, the mother of all updates took an age to install, and when it finally got around to embedded itself in my dinky Thinkpad, the wifi connection went completely kaput with the wireless card failing to detect any networks. Blasted Microsoft always seems to make life that little bit more difficult than it needs to be. They try and try and they fail and fail again. All was not lost in , at least, as I was able to reconnect to he web after reversing the install. So, two hours of fiddling, and back to square one.

After some extensive searching, I found the solution here and here. Here are Fyneworks instructions, which saved me:

  1. On your Desktop, right-click "My computer"
  2. Click on "Manage"
  3. Expand the tree node "Services and Applications"
  4. Click on "Services"
  5. Find the service "Extensible Authentication Protocol Service"

  6. Right-click > Properties
  7. Click on "Start" and...
  8. Change "Startup type" to "Automatic"

  9. Find the service "Network Access Protection Agent" and repeat steps 6, 7 and 8.
Note, the options only appear after the SP3 install. Also, be sure to reboot after flicking the 'Automatic' switches.

Maybe I'll try the Office 2010 install tomorrow. I don't know if I have the stamina.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book - A Matter of Death and Life by Andrey Kurkov

This book is pretty good but every time I pick up a Kurkov, I pray for something on the order of Death and the Penguin, his best work.

This particular piece of work is very light. Indeed, at around 100 small pages, it is more of a long short story. It has some great moments, but alas, there is no penguin and there are no ninjas (there never are any ninjas). Quite good, and it's brevity is refreshing. Could be better with more ninja and some penguin, maybe a ninja penguin.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


A few months ago, I stripped my machine of Adobe Acrobat, infernal creature that it is, always leaving little hobgoblins in my system.

I went to NitroPDF which was less nitro than it made out. I wonder, does the sale of goods act apply to goods given for free - time is my consideration.

Anyway, I've been running Foxit for a while and it's darn fine indeed. It's fast and offers tabbed browsing of pdfs. Finally, I have found my pdf reading resting place. Recommend to all.

Film: Resident Evil 3D

Just watched Milla Jovovich open up several cans of computer generated, wire-fu whip-ass on the zombie population and on the corporation responsible for creating said zombies. This movie is several movies in one (I am Legend, 28 Days Later, Matrix, to name but a few), but in this case they are all woefully bad and incoherent. For you money, you get zombie killing action in tunnels, in a prison, outside a prison, in an underground complex, and on a ship, but there isn't much else going.

All this, and I can still say I found the movie moderately entertaining...I pretty much knew what I was in for and it's what I wanted at the time. Also, I can see why the fans might like it, as it plays out just like a video game.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Audi 80 - killing me softly with your ailments

Oh Rocinante, what a sorryful state I find you in. You have started condensing on the inside, your wipers screech out a mournful cry for relief ... a cry to which I have been deaf to for several years. You know not how fast your engine turns (the rev counter is broken), nor how far you will carry (petrol gage reads half full when filled to the maximum). In the presence of others (traffic) you fluster and choke (breakdowns are increasingly common in traffic jams). Your wails for attention (random alarm sounding off) have been muted (demobiliser and alarm switched off), although a beacon of your ills shines strong and true (low oil light is permanently on). These are the trying times Rocinante, my old steed.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Oh no...

I can feel the impending doom of the blogging slowdown...oh, how one's blogging frequency reflects the biorythms of life. I have started a new role at work, which is interesting but will be quite demanding, and the next batch of accountancy studies are due to commence forthwith (okay, not really forthwith, but definitely close enough to allow me to use the word forthwith - see, I did it again). The good times will be with me come Christmas. Until then, woe is me.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Pentax H90 - Panorama stitching example

This is my first camera with panorama photo stitching mode, and it works a treat. Here is a shot of the decked area at the property I am renting. It isn't difficult to line up the shots so you can't see the 'seams'. Click on the image for a larger shot.

Pebbles Magoo

More tom foolery with my Pentax H90 and Pebbles Magoo (and Photoscape)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Enough with the accountancy already

Oh no. In the past few days, I have posted to an accountancy forum, purchased a book on accounting standards, and spent my spare time looking at pass rates. No more, me thinks. I still have two weeks before my studies begin!

BPP CIMA & ACCA pass rates (H2 2008)

On the upside, the pass rates for my college (BPP, similar to Kaplan) are much higher for both CIMA and ACCA than the global average, although I suspect this is in part due to the exclusion of many of the home-studiers, chancers, and folk whose jobs aren't on the line if they repeatedly fail. The historical variance for ACCA at BPP is still quite a bit higher than CIMA, which is a pain. I do like to complain, eh!

While I'm whingeing, let it be known that the cartel that is BPP and Kaplan could be facing a serious blow to it's business model as technology does away with the old modes of class-room based teaching. Indeed, the free options provided by OpenTuition don't look half bad, and even BPP's own on-line class room replicates the physical taught courses, almost removing the need for tutors, and offices. This lowering of fixed costs and ability to offer courses to a wider audience should push prices down significantly. On the downside, having lower barriers to entry also means your accreditation is worth less. Mind you, there is already a pretty high barrier to accountancy that will remain in place, which is that it is 'accountancy', and there's no getting away from that!

Global CIMA vs ACCA % pass rates charts

Here is a graphical representation of the pass rates listed in the earlier blog post. It's the first time I used the charting function in Google docs (don't worry MS Office, Google is still a few decades behind in this space).

Friday, September 03, 2010

ACCA vs CIMA exam pass rates comparison

Here are the global pass rates for the ACCA and CIMA written exams for the first half of the year.


Paper F4, Corporate and Business Law, 51%
Paper F5, Performance Management, 57%
Paper F6, Taxation, 46%
Paper F7, Financial Reporting, 28%
Paper F8, Audit and Assurance, 36%
Paper F9, Financial Management, 43%
Paper P1, Professional Accountant, 53%
Paper P2, Corporate Reporting, 47%
Paper P3, Business Analysis, 51%
Paper P4, Advanced Financial Management, 34%
Paper P5, Advanced Performance Management, 44%
Paper P6, Advanced Taxation, 35%
Paper P7, Advanced Audit and Assurance, 32%


P1 - performance operations 40%
P2 - performance management 38%
E1 - enterprise operations 54%
E2 - enterprise management 39%
F1 - financial operations 69%
F2 - financial management 50%
P3 - performance strategy 51%
E3 - enterprise strategy 52%
F3 - financial strategy 50%
T4 - part B case study examination 62%

ACCA has a really wide range from 27%-58%. The CIMA pass rates seems to be much better, with more consistency across modules. I don't regret opting for ACCA, I just wish they were more consistent.

Scott Pilgrim takes on the World ... and loses

A ball of colourful nonsense. Watch it to escape reality, nothing more.


Thursday, September 02, 2010

Yo Yo Awesomeness

Dang amazing yo-yo action: