Freesteel Blog » 2007 » August

Sunday, August 26th, 2007 at 8:55 pm - - Machining, Weekends

I’ve been hauled up about six Via Ferratas in this here valley in Arco, northern Italy, just north of Lake Garda. It’s been a slog. Thousands of metres of steep height gain in the blistering sun. Becka just keeps going. These holidays are wearing me out.

I managed to get off today and stay indoors away from the “healthy” outdoors and allow my legs to recover. We never got to go canyonning, which would have been more my cup of tea.

A few days ago I got back from the cliffs in time to make an important business call in an attempt to clarify the situation in which I have experienced a minor shafting.

Apparently if someone says:

“Go on, please agree to do A. I assure that I believe X is true.”

where X is something which, if true, makes A okay, and, if false, makes A not okay, then you need to respond:

“All right, I’ll agree to A on condition that X is in fact true.”

rather than simply:

“All right, I agree to A.”

because in the latter case it’s legally irrelevant whether or not X is true, or is now believed to be true, or even whether the belief at the time had been reasonable.

Tossers! Who cares about this rubbish anyway? At least in programming when the logical transform screws up you can fix it and recompile. In the game of business you have to pay for every unnecessary, pointless, gratuitous syntax error as though you meant it. What a waste of time.

When you make deals with a businessman, sure it’s a “level playing field”. But they’re snooker table sharks. Always in training and at the top of their game. You will lose guaranteed. Mine is a trivial matter. Over in America, businessmen have been cleaning millions of people out of their rising house price equity using a subprime scam. Of course that whole system collapses when house prices cease to rise and there is no equity to thieve. But, like crime, all good business maneuvers involve an element of risk.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007 at 7:27 pm - - Machining, Whipping

Nothing is going on. Move along now. I’ve decided it’s necessary to lay the ground rules before it does.

Question: What do you have if a lawyer is buried up to his neck in sand?
Answer: Not enough sand.

Realizing that one of the founding and ridiculous principles of the law is that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. Even if the law is so obscure and voluminous that it’s impossible to know it. It is public and theoretically accessible, and your democratic representatives in Parliament have signed up to it on your behalf.

Noting that legal fine print is similar in its way of being voluminous and obscure and impossible to read, but it exists in many contracts you sign up to, put tickboxes to, or agree to by opening a shrink-wrapped piece of software.

Asserting that this blog posting is legal fine print and in that it is publically noticed and placed in a location which any legal professional would be reasonably expected to find it. Therefore, not having seen it is no excuse as you are still bound by the terms that follow.

Be it resolved that:

1. Notwithstanding any prior explicit agreements, Julian Todd reserves the right to make public any part of an email, written or verbal communications, or documentary evidence in any other form relating to a threat of legal action of any kind in his professional or activist capacity.

2. The right to publicize legal threats applies even if the threat is technically limited to a close colleague with whom his work or hobby is intimately related.

3. A statement at the end of a communication of the nature: “This email is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed” is likely to have its proposed confidentiality denied unless previously agreed, and will be used for any purpose seen fit.

4. Actual legal action taken in the courts is public by default. Therefore — morally — threats to take legal action must also be public if seriously intended.

5. If you want to send me a legal threat in confidence, you must obtain my consent in writing, or don’t bother to make it in the first place.

6. If a solicitor from a company with the initials A.G. makes any authorized contact with me, I will assume that they will have agreed that I have the right to disclose all the letters I have received and sent to them in the past relating to the last time I had a run-in with these sods whose unapologetic tactics include attempts to deprive people of their livelihood. It is advised that if someone connected to that establishment has anything to say, they do so in their personal capacity or use a representative from another lawyering company who is willing to communicate with me about the issues without resorting to any direct legal threats.

7. Most legal threats by moneyed corporations against smaller individuals rely on fear and bullying to work. I have lost my fear and I don’t like bullying. The legal system, like the Ritz hotel, is open to anyone who has the cash. But it also relies on the consent of the public to function without being held in deserved contempt. Be it known that I am prepared to risk losing a legal action spectacularly, so long as I believe I can induce sufficient self-inflicted harm against the evil-doers.

Thursday, August 9th, 2007 at 7:38 pm - - Machining, Weekends

Now safely ensconced in Venice in preparation for my grandfather’s 95th birthday. Buying the train ticket in Bad Aussee was the worst thing ever. First, the office opens and closes 5 times in the day, not just for the lunch break. Then they can’t even sell you tickets that go outside of Austria. Instead they give you a phone number which you are supposed to phone in order to book your ticket through a call centre. Fortunately an Austrian guy in the waiting room with a mobile helped us with this one.

The men in the ticket office don’t do the phoning for you!

One of the things the call-centre needed was the post-code of the train station! Then they could issue us with a 5 digit number which we took back to the ticket window which allowed their computer to issue the ticket and take our money.

Meanwhile in the working world the webpage has gone down completely. The new Pro/TOOLMAKER is being released this month. As was said in May: “It is understood that Flutter and his senior team are to continue working at the company, although formal appointments are yet to be announced.”

So far there hasn’t been an announcement, but I’m waiting for a photograph of one of these. For avoidance of doubt, I’ll talk about just about anything software related to any stranger for a free lunch.

Monday, August 6th, 2007 at 5:27 pm - - Machining

Too lazy for caving, so I’ve been programming a bit. This picture shows the path of a gnat in the shape of a ball hopping along the triangulated surface. It proves the possibility that this idea could work, although it might be more difficult when the gnat is shaped like a donut.

Next step, when I register the interest and have done some pondering, is to learn how to steer it. If I can get away with approximating the contact surface with a plane, then it’ll be a matter of finding the intersections between a circle and an ellipse. Otherwise the job’s a bit harder.

The ideas are easy to come by. The question is whether any of them work. It’s a completely other matter whether anyone gives a damn. But by then it’s too late because you can’t undo work if it happens to earn nothing.

Next stop is Venice for a cultural interlude. The caving expedition has just gone through a derigging phase before some of the hard people cleared off. After feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, Robert the Wonder Caver (a member of the local Austrian club) popped by and showed us what he’s been doing and put us in our place. He is an SAS man operating behind enemy lines to our girl guide scout camp. Setting up camps 800 metres underground in winter (so there is less water flow down the shafts) after skiing in and digging out the entrance by hand is what you do to discover the deepest cave in Austria. When he’s on holiday he goes cave diving.

Friday, August 3rd, 2007 at 4:50 pm - - Cave 2 Comments »

[Uploaded from the street in Bad Aussee.]

Six days into the CUCC caving expedition continuing the exploration of Steinbruckenhohle and I have almost recovered from the too-hard first three days. I have now learnt to say “No”.

Day One included a two hour jaunt up the newly placed via ferrata route on the 200 metre cliff above the Loserhohle. Someone had zig-zagged a steel cable across the cliffiest bits and stapled it to the rock. You could climb it by leaning back and walking with your feet, except at the overhanging bits where you had to hold on for dear life. Then we crossed the gryke-infested plateau to the Stone Bridge camp with all our caving gear.