Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Amazon terms and conditions

Who ever reads the terms and conditions that we actually sign up to? 

Not me.  But I came across this little gem in a forum and I thought I'd share it here also, Amazon either know something we don't - or obviously, I hope - it's an in-joke, to show that people will click 'accept' to anything before reading the terms.

57.10 Acceptable Use; Safety-Critical Systems. Your use of the Lumberyard Materials must comply with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy. The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat. However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.    

Friday, 5 February 2016

Crew 3361

I spent five years on this crew in Oman, on a rotation of 6 weeks on and 3 weeks off.  It was a fully autonomous mobile city in the desert, home to around 400 people - mostly Omani's, Indian's and expats.  I have very fond memories of the people I worked with and I have a lot of respect for them, not just their hard work ethics but their mental strength as well, in terms of saying goodbye to their children for 6 or 8 weeks at a time.  I don't think I could have done that.

I enjoyed the desert environment most of all, it was the closest I've ever felt to being on another planet - a silence and emptiness that is both haunting and mesmerizing.  It's hard to describe unless you experience it, especially compared to the chaos of normal urban life.  There are some images which will stick with me forever: beautiful sand dunes, weathered jebels, utterly flat mud beds, raging wadi's after rainfall and sandstorms rolling in across the horizon.   It was a desert, but it was never just nothing. 

Starting work at 6am in the field every day, I would watch the sunrise for 6 weeks in a row and in the evening, see it go down again to the sound of the call to prayer.  It was a privilege looking back, especially as I can't remember the last time I saw the sunset or sunrise since leaving.  In the winter I'd shiver in the morning under a blanket of fog and in the summer I'd curse how it could be 30'C before 7am.  The heat in summertime was a punishing 50'C.  It was brutal and pushed my physical and mental strength to the limit, but I also thrived off it.  Indiana Jones was my hero growing up, and on my own in the field I got to imagine I was him.  I'd go for runs never knowing what was over the next dune or in an outcrop, it was always an adventure.  Of course most of the area had been scouted already, but it excited me to think that even on the smallest patch of desert I was walking on land that had never been walked on by humans before. 

The low oil price has meant this crew has to shutdown, perhaps it will mobilize again in the future, perhaps not.  But it leaves behind a legacy and expats who will be life-long friends.  Muscat is a beautiful city, perhaps my favourite and Oman a peaceful country, with generous and welcoming people. 

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Drowning in passwords

I'm a data manager, so I'm pretty organized and efficient in most aspects of my life.  But recently, like in the last year or so, I've become so swamped with using dozens of different passwords for websites that I've had to write them all down.  I can't even remember my pin codes sometimes for the different debit/credit cards I have, as I have both UK and Danish bank accounts (plus a work card).  I feel embarrassed by my inability to remember my codes, even though most of them are the same with a number change here or there.

I have various websites through work which require a password change every three months, plus the usual websites which everyone uses: Facebook, Twitter, Gmail.  I wanted to play a little online poker, that was two new passwords - one for the website, one for the card payment website.  I had a courier deliver a package to me, but I was away so I had to sign up to their website to get it re-delivered on a different date. 

Maybe I could de-register from many of the websites, but I know somewhere down the line I'm going to be needing that company again and I can't be bothered to register again.  I'm ranting about a first world problem, I know, but I needed to let it out.

So for now, my master password list is safely hidden.  I hope I'm not the only one who has one, but if I am then maybe I do need to get my memory checked.

Monday, 1 February 2016

A recommendation

I've been self-publishing for nearly four years now and in all that time, I've come across many writers but there has always been one standout writer: David Jester / Eli Yance.  Quite frankly, he is the only one I would truly call a world-class writer out of everyone I've reviewed.

The first Jester novel I read was 'The Line, the Itch and the Rabbit Hole' and I was absorbed by the quality and the honesty of the writing.  Every novella and book he has since released have been huge hits with readers, attracting rave reviews and download levels I could only dream of.  He has since found an agent and a major US publisher - congratulations to him! 

There is always something very readable about his novels, they draw you in instantly and yet the writing isn't padded with waffle.  He knows how to create a story and my favourite book, Consequence, is just crying out to be made into a film.  I wish him well with his publishing future and look forward to reading more of his work.  I'm glad I got to exchange a few emails with him from time to time, plus read and review his work.  He's a decent, down-to-earth guy and someone I think would be cool to grab a beer with.

You can check out his website here:
and pre-order his bestseller, An Idiot in Love,  a ridiculously funny comedy, here: