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Which spider-themed movie is the funniest?
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From Twitter: @MisterFlarpy
Mon 15th Sep 2014

When I'm in charge, having the Samsung whistly ringtone will be a crime punishable by forced insertion of phone into colon.


From Twitter: @MisterFlarpy


From Twitter: @MisterFlarpy
Fri 12th Sep 2014

So I've read all this mornings headlines and the only good in the world is that Sandisk have developed a half-terrabyte SD card.


From Twitter: @MisterFlarpy
Fri 12th Sep 2014

I've just spent the last 20 minutes bulletproofing MHB. Twitpic can now close down and nothing will break. If only Facebook was so easy.


From Twitter: @MisterFlarpy
Fri 12th Sep 2014

Terrible parking...


From Twitter: @MisterFlarpy
Thu 11th Sep 2014

Stop the world, I think Ed Byrne and Dara O'Briain just won.


From Twitter: @MisterFlarpy
Wed 10th Sep 2014

I think I love this woman...


From Twitter: @MisterFlarpy
Sun 7th Sep 2014

I need to get this BBFC warning put on a t-shirt.


Wed 3rd Sep 2014

Quite a long time ago, I noticed that quite a lot of actors in the Harry Potter movies have also been in Doctor Who, and there are also several actors in Harry Potter that have also been in one of the more recent Bond movies. This led to a conversation with some like-minded friends, during which we decided that, like a Bacon number, british actors should have a ranking system based on how many of the UK's national institutions in which they have appeared, and that we should use Harry Potter, James Bond and Doctor Who as our three. We also decided that John Cleese is the only one we could think of who's been in all three.

In fact, there are four. The obvious one, John Cleese, had a cameo role as an art critic in the Doctor Who episode "City of Death", a slightly larger role as Nearly Headless Nick in Harry Potter, and a role as Q's replacement in two Bond movies.

Julian Glover has also been in all three. He's one of those actors who has been in practically everything but nobody really notices him. He's been in Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and two roles in Doctor Who, most memorably Scaroth in "City of Death". He played the villan Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only, and voiced Aragog the spider in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Yes, we are counting voice roles.

Helen McCrory is best known as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, but has appeared in Doctor Who as head vampire Rosanna in "Vampires of Venice", and as the MP Clair Dowar in Skyfall.

Last, but by no means least, we have Greg Bennett. Judging from his IMDB profile he's a background actor for hire, he's been in pretty much everything. He's had multiple roles in Doctor Who, and has also appeared in the other two, albeit in uncredited minor roles.

Interestingly, only three lead actors have "crossed over" as it were. Two Doctors have appeared in Harry Potter; David Tennant and John Hurt (because he counts as a Doctor in my book.) and only one Bond, Timothy Dalton, has appeared in Doctor Who, as the corrupt Time Lord leader, Rassilon.

A few other honourable mentions before the complete list. BBC News presenter Huw Edwards has managed to play himself in both Doctor Who and James Bond. He appears on the television in the Doctor Who episode "Fear Her", and also in Skyfall. BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Bill Nighy has had walk-on roles in both the Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor", and in the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and was rumoured to be in the running to play the ninth Doctor back in 2005. Finally, veteran actor Warwick Davis has yet to appear in a Bond movie, but that's not to say he won't one day, seeing as he's been in pretty much everything else!

On the subject of people who have been in virtually everything, Martin Freeman doesn't appear to have been in Doctor Who, James Bond *or* Harry Potter. I'm sure this will be rectified soon, especially as he clearly knows Steven Moffat.

I'm sure this list will be revised in the future, especially as Downton Abbey and Coronation Street both seem to be melting pots of well-known actors these days. In the meantime, here's a complete list of everyone who's been in more than one of Doctor Who, James Bond and Harry Potter, plus links to IMDB so you can see who they played. Enjoy, stats fans.

Greg Bennett(James Bond, Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Julian Glover(James Bond, Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
John Cleese(James Bond, Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Helen McCrory(James Bond, Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Roy Stewart(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Ingrid Pitt(James Bond, Doctor Who)
John Hurt(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Peter Roy(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Imelda Staunton(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Lesley Hill(James Bond, Doctor Who)
John Atterbury(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Jeremy Bulloch(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Ralph Fiennes(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Shirley Henderson(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
George Pravda(James Bond, Doctor Who)
John Hollis(James Bond, Doctor Who)
James Bree(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Noel Johnson(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Anthony Carrick(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Michael Percival(James Bond, Doctor Who)
George Roubicek(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Colin Salmon(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Christopher Bowen(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Jim Conway(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Leonard Sachs(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Peter Cartwright(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Simon Fisher-Becker(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Ellie Darcey-Alden(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Jessica Hynes(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Bill Hutchinson(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Joseph Frst(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Graham Crowden(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Carl McCrystal(James Bond, Doctor Who)
David de Keyser(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Edward de Souza(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Cyril Shaps(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Zoë Wanamaker(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Christina Cole(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Philip Voss(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Mark Williams(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Marc Lawrence(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Peter Brooke(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Graham Cole(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Ron Tarr(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Bill Nighy(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Alan Talbot(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Terrance Denville(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Patrick Barr(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Dennis Edwards(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Barry Andrews(James Bond, Doctor Who)
R.J. Bell(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Tim Pigott-Smith(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Jimmy Vee(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Jeffry Wickham(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Burnell Tucker(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Graham Duff(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Glen Stanway(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Neil Hallett(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Tony Sibbald(James Bond, Doctor Who)
David Yip(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Paul Ritter(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Jeff Rawle(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Kristopher Kum(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Neville Jason(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Geoffrey Palmer(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Max Faulkner(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Rocky Taylor(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Derek Deadman(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Selva Rasalingam(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Warwick Davis(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Jeremy Wilkin(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Michael Byrne(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Paul Carson(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Hans De Vries(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Burt Kwouk(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Bill Mitchell(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Pip Torrens(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Robbie Coltrane(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Kerry Shale(James Bond, Doctor Who)
David Bradley(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
John Sarbutt(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Elizabeth Spriggs(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Timothy Bateson(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
George Baker(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Hugh Bonneville(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Norman Jones(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Chris Webb(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Greg Powell(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Jimmy Gardner(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
John Moreno(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Eva Alexander(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Vernon Dobtcheff(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Michael Moor(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Richard Trinder(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Lisa Osmond(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Diana Rigg(James Bond, Doctor Who)
David Decio(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Catherine Schell(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Earl Cameron(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Paul Heasman(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Garrick Hagon(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Honor Blackman(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Timothy Dalton(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Stephen Hubay(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Francis De Wolff(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Daisy Haggard(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Bill Weston(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Christopher Whittingham(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Roger Lloyd Pack(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Jason Watkins(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Toby Jones(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Robert Jezek(James Bond, Doctor Who)
David Tennant(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Elize du Toit(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Aileen Lewis(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Dennis Matsuki(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Anthony Ainley(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Bhasker Patel(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Jim McManus(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Tom Chadbon(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Gbor Baraker(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Shane Rimmer(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Geoffrey Cheshire(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Albert Moses(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Huw Edwards(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Steven Berkoff(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Clifford Earl(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Jan Williams(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Edward Underdown(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Nichola McAuliffe(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Clive Cazes(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Marc Boyle(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Kevin McNally(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Nina Young(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Peter Brace(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Philip Locke(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Colin Stinton(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Dinny Powell(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Leslie French(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Carl Rigg(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Nick Hobbs(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Ronald Rich(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Alan Bond(James Bond, Doctor Who)
George Pastell(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Paul Darrow(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Michael Osborne(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Brian Grellis(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Ralph Morse(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Steve Plytas(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Alf Joint(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Bernard Horsfall(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Lasco Atkins(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Tobias Menzies(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Ken Norris(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Shaun Lucas(James Bond, Doctor Who)
John Abineri(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Paul Marc Davis(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Julian Seager(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Laurie Goode(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Tim Condren(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Sonny Caldinez(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Jennifer Hill(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Gertan Klauber(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Terence Brook(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Vincent Wong(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Richard Cubison(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Dudley Jones(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Ray Marioni(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Andr Maranne(James Bond, Doctor Who)
David Hankinson(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
David Ashton(James Bond, Doctor Who)
Jo Osmond(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Philip Rham(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Sean Cronin(James Bond, Harry Potter)
Adrian Rawlins(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)
Terence Bayler(Harry Potter, Doctor Who)

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Posted by Ash | Permalink

Achievement and Appreciation
Sun 27th Jul 2014

It has come to my attention that we, as a society, place far too much emphasis on sport. We worship footballers like gods and have many national and international competitions in which athletes and those of peak physical fitness can shine, and be doted on by an adoring public.

This first came to my attention during Danny Boyle's opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Boyle did, in my opinion, a wonderful job producing a spectacle that incorporated pretty much everything that's good about Britain - while leaving it to the closing ceremony to showcase everything that's bad about it! But there was one thing that stuck in my mind more than anything else, and that's the fact that a grinning David Beckham riding a speedboat down the Thames got instant recognition and applause from the crowd, yet Tim Berners-Lee got a polite and slightly subdued clap only after an announcer told everyone who he is. For those who still don't know, Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, and Beckham gets paid to kick a ball around a field.

I believe this is a problem that stems from childhood. I was one of the kids at school who was useless at PE, but I excelled in subjects that actually matter, such as maths and science. I'm not for a minute suggesting that it's not essential to get some exercise, but it always annoyed me that one day every year we had to be pulled out of lessons to go and watch the physically able kids show off - we called it "sports day". I certainly don't recall a "maths day" in which academically bright children were cheered and applauded for doing what they're good at. I may even go as far as to suggest that it's possibly a root cause of bullying. We're encouraged from a very young age to worship the physically fit, but not the brainy kids. Who are the kids who most regularly get picked on at school? The geeks and nerds.

I'm not telling anyone off. If you feel that someone who can score a goal from the other end of the pitch or run 100m in under 8 seconds deserves praise and adoration, feel free to give it to them. Heck, if I was feeling particularly cold and ruthless, I might even suggest that we genuinely need to show sporty people all this love, because it may be the only thing preventing them from realising that their achievements don't actually matter in the grand scheme of things, and I personally can't imagine anything worse than having no purpose. But as we show love to these physical powerhouses, let's not forget those who actually get things done. Scientists, doctors, nurses, teachers, builders, inventors - heck, toilet cleaners and street sweepers do more for the good of humanity than most footballers, and get a fraction of the appreciation, not to mention paycheck. So let's make our culture better by celebrating and appreciating everyone, not just people who are good at sport.

UPDATE 2014-07-29: This week's episode of University Challenge was moved from its primetime slot to teatime, because the commonwealth games pushed everything on BBC1 to BBC2. If that doesn't prove my point I don't know what does.

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Posted by Ash | Permalink

Fighting Fire with Water
Mon 14th Jul 2014

There's a lot of controversy in the press at the minute (rightly so) about the fact that a bill is about to be passed through parliament. All the main party leaders (plus Nick Clegg too) have come out in support of it despite it not even being read in parliament yet. It's being called "emergency" legislation, meaning it'll be passed through much quicker than any other law. In fact, had Tom Watson (the only MP for whom I have any respect whatsoever) not brought it to the attention of the press, we probably wouldn't have even heard about it until after it became law. The big-shot politicians are all saying this is necessary to prevent terrorism (textbook excuse #1) and paedophiles (textbook excuse #2) but a lot of people are beginning to think that, in the wake of the actions of Edward Snowdon and Chelsea Manning, maybe a government isn't really fit to wield this kind of power. Whether you agree with that or not (I'm torn, I must admit) it's not exactly a healthy sign of government when bills get rushed through parliament lickety split before anyone can read them, even when you consider this bill will probably have no effect whatsoever on the powers available to, say, GCHQ.

So you'd think that I'd be outraged at this bill. Well, I'm not. And the reason is simple: technology is a much more effective weapon against law than law is.

Law is slow. I mean, really slow. It's also dumb. I kinda lost my last shred of respect for the law during the infamous Twitter Joke trial when they started arguing over grammatical technicalities, when anyone with more than two brain cells could see the guy had no intention of blowing up an airport. The fact is that law doesn't understand technology, so usually when laws are made to restrict technology there is an awful lot of collateral damage. This is partially because law makers like to cover all bases, but mostly because politicians, judges and lawyers don't know enough about the technology they're trying to legislate. Basically, law is really bad at solving problems, particularly modern ones.

Compare this to technology, which is very good at solving problems. The problem of your ISP being required by law to store logs on your browsing habits, solved by Tor and VPNs. The problem of not being able to smoke legally indoors, solved by e-cigarettes. Heck, when vehicle clamping became illegal suddenly every private car park in Southampton had ANPR cameras installed. Look at any kind of obstacle, good or bad, legal, technical or otherwise, and there's more than likely a form of technology that can circumvent it.

I don't fear a surveillance state because I know that for every wall there is a higher ladder. And as I'm not a lawyer, or anyone with any kind of political influence whatsoever, my ladder is technology. When (not if) the new bill is passed, I will simply continue using Tor to encrypt my traffic. I will continue to use VPNs to mask my IP address, and to fool my ISP's traffic shaping procedures. And the next time a law is passed that I'm not happy about, I'll come up with a technical solution to that too, rather than waste my time lobbying politicians who don't listen.

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Posted by Ash | Permalink

Questionably Named Transformers
Thu 5th Jun 2014

There's another Transformers movie coming out soon. It apparently picks up a few years after the last one, the Autobots are in hiding and the humans have built their own robot defence force. It also apparently features dinobots, which can only be a good thing. I thought I'd do something a bit different and use this as a poor excuse for some puerile humour. Let's look at some of the questionable names given to Transformers characters by their creators. All of these are genuine, although I've no idea if they were entirely innocent or not.


Hopefully even the most casual of Transformers fans should know of Slag. He was introduced in 1984 as one of the original Dinobots. Oddly enough, his name has been quietly changed to 'Slug' over time. He changed into a mechanical triceratops. Since the 80s he has been in and out of rehab due to the severe depression caused by having ones name used as a common insult on Eastenders. He's due to make an appearance in the new movie (under his new name, obviously).


Spasma was the head of Apeface in the Headmasters series. Consequently, he transformed into nothing more than a monkey head, which only really became funny when Monkey Island was released in 1990. His only cartoon appearance was in the US series 4, in which he appeared as a member of Nebulon's "Hive". When the Japanese decided to ignore series 4 and do their own version, Spasma was ret-conned, along with all the other Nebulons.


Discharge was a Micromaster, and consequently not in the TV show and therefore I personally don't know much about her (I'm reliably informed it's a rare female Transformer). Her alt form is a fire engine (presumably the discharge comes from the hose) and she's part of a combiner team that forms Sixturbo. Apparently. Anyway... Discharge.


I feel really, really sorry for Gusher. Not only is he named after a type of porn formerly banned in the UK, but he's basically the arse-end of a pantomime horse. He and his buddy, Pipeline, between them combine to form a construction vehicle, but Pipeline is the cab and Gusher is just the trailer. I'm not even sure Gusher's alt-mode can move on its own.


Yes, there is actually a Transformer called Erector. And he turns into a crane. I don't really think there's anything more to say about this.

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Posted by Ash | Permalink

Beware of Link Previews
Tue 29th Apr 2014

Hilarity ensued on Twitter this week - an image went round showing a story on the Guardian website with a rather unexpected headline. Thing is, the article didn't actually say that, and although it could have been a clever photoshop, most people seem to think that some clever techie at the Guardian's website modified the page's meta-tags in order to make social media links to the article say something sweary while the actual article is clean as a whistle.

Whatever the reason, there is a very good point here that lots of people have missed, and that's that it's a piece of cake to fake links on Facebook or Twitter. Even if we ignore the incredibly dangerous practice of link-shortening that Twitter kinda forces you to use in order to keep within the character limit, it appears that modern link-sharing sites try to be clever by showing the user a preview of what they're going to see if they click the link.

But this is really, really easy to abuse. When a web server responds to a web request (eg you, clicking on a link) it will normally respond with the page requested, but it doesn't have to. It can send what it likes. In this case it's really easy to program a web server to respond to Facebook with one thing and everyone else with something else. A while back I did a proof-of-concept of this in action on this very site...

It works by sending Facebook the cute and fluffy picture promised, but everyone else gets the scary picture of the bear and the skeleton from Look Around You. The upshot is that if you share any of the links on that page on Facebook, the auto-generated preview will show that the page contains something completely different to what you'd actually see if you clicked the link. Feel free to fool your friends!

Obviously this is just harmless fun and I'm not an actual scammer, but this is actually the method a lot of scams use in order to work. A recent scam on Facebook shows up in your news feed as a link to a 'shocking' video of an horrific rollercoaster accident (which didn't actually happen). The preview makes it look like a link to an actual news site, but clicking on the link takes you to the permissions page for a malicious Facebook app with the same name as a popular news site, attempting to con you into granting access to your account to the scammers. This scam almost certainly works the same way, as there's clearly no photo of a rollercoaster or news story on the page linked to, yet we're so used to seeing 'previews' of links that we don't really notice.

To summarise: beware of Facebook and Twitter links. If you click a link and get something you didn't expect, there's a very real risk that someone's trying to screw with you, you should restart your web browser and return to the page you were originally looking at.

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Posted by Ash | Permalink

New Doodle
Sun 9th Mar 2014
Game Show
New Doodles
Sat 22nd Feb 2014
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Cuddly Toys Cute Aliens Missing Parts Cute Jurassic Park Cute Nightmare on Elm Street
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