A response to this article on codepoetry. I’m not really sure why anyone ever thought that voting machines were a good idea. And by voting machines I mean anything from a touch screen to a mechanical hole-punching lever thingy. Here in the UK, you turn up at your local polling station, and show them your voting slip, which you will have received in the post a few weeks earlier. You will probably have to join a short queue, the one appropriate to your street address. So you look for your street on a sign, and join the appropriate line.
When you get to the front of the line, they look up your name in a big book. When they find your name they cross it out with a pen, and hand you your ballot paper(s). Very high tech. The ballot paper is just a sheet of paper with a box next to each name. You put an ‘X’ in the box next to the person you’re voting for, using a pencil which is attached to the desk in the voting booth with a piece of twine and some sticky tape. You fold it over once, exit the booth, and post the paper into a box. The box is sealed with a tamperproof fastener, and the only opening is a thin slot in the top. At the end of the day, all the boxes get taken to the regional centre, opened, and the votes counted. By hand. If a recount is needed, that’s done by hand as well. I can remember a few times when they’ve had about 4 recounts for a particular seat, because the margin was in the order of 10 votes. I’ve been eligible to vote now for 14 years, and that’s how it’s always been done. You even recognise the same rickety wooden booths every time you return to the same polling station (in my case, the community centre round the corner from our house). Even during a general election, the whole country’s votes are counted by 2 or 3am. Now sure, the USA has a much larger electorate than us, but that also means they have a much larger pool to draw on for vote counting volunteers.

I use Command-Up and Command-Down in Safari all the time. They are equivalent to the home and end keys, but they are a lot easier to use because there is a Command key right next to the arrow keys on my PowerBook keyboard, but the fn key is the other side of the keyboard and therefore needs two hands. Another pair of useful keystrokes is Command-Left (Back) and Command-Right (Forward). To make these work in Firefox, you have to edit one of the files, /Applications/Firefox.app/ Contents/MacOS/res/builtin/platformHTMLBindings.xml. Open that file in an editor and find the section that starts <binding id="browser">. Inside that section you'll see a load of <handler event="keypress"... lines. Add the following lines somewhere in that section: <handler event="keypress" keycode="VK_UP" modifiers="accel" command="cmd_scrollTop"/>
<handler event="keypress" keycode="VK_DOWN" modifiers="accel" command="cmd_scrollBottom"/>
<handler event="keypress" keycode="VK_LEFT" modifiers="accel" command="Browser:Back"/>
<handler event="keypress" keycode="VK_RIGHT" modifiers="accel" command="Browser:Forward"/>
Save the file and restart Firefox to apply the changes. Don't forget though, because you've edited one of the files included in Firefox.app, if you upgrade Firefox you'll need to apply the changes again. There is supposed to be a mechanism whereby you can make the change in your user profile directory, but that feature is currently broken.

I've never been much of a keep fit fanatic, and anyone that knows me will tell you that that's a complete understatement. I've decided to try and rectify that by starting to do a bit more exercise, i.e. more than none. To that end I've started jogging. I've got myself a pair of trainers, and some tracksuit trousers. A few weeks ago I went out running a couple of times with my brother, but for some reason the momentum was never quite there to go out a third time. Tonight I went out running with a colleague from work and we are planning to make it a thrice-weekly event. There are no shower facilities at work so the plan is to set off straight after work, then at least we can head straight home afterwards. Tonight we ran for about 45 minutes, from work to Buckingham town and back. It's now three hours later and my legs still feel like jelly.

Why is it so hard to get a plumber? Why is it just accepted that you make an appointment for a plumber to come round, then they just don’t turn up? Why did I waste my time leaving work early today? Seriously, I’m sat here with a crap bathroom and many thousands of pounds sat in my bank account waiting for a plumber to take it off my hands in exchange for fitting a new one. If you are a plumber and want more information then please contact me at jon.evans@pobox.com. I live in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Update 24/09/2003: the plumber came round on Monday, and if his quote is OK we should be able to get the job done next month sometime. So we might be OK. Plumbers, you can stop the barrage of email now (none received as of this posting…). Update 06/08/2005: As I’m importing all of my posts from my old site, I thought I’d add a comment to this one. We did end up getting the bathroom done by this plumber, and it cost us over £5,000. The workmanship was utter crap, and I ended up removing every bathroom fitting installed by the plumber and installing it all again myself. Moral: DIY is the way to go.

Sometimes you get spam which contains random words in an effort to fool spam filters. The text of these is usually quite surreal. Here's one I received today:
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