WordPress 3.0 problem

After spending half a day on this I’m admitting defeat and calling on the great wisdom of the WordPress-using community.

As many WordPress users will have done recently, this week I upgraded to WordPress 3.0. The upgrade went without a hitch and I also upgraded all the various plugins that were presenting compatibility updates. Noting to report.

However, the other day I created some static pages, and now the default URL of the site redirects to one of these pages rather than showing the normal ten latests posts. I’ve checked the settings under Settings -> Reading, setting it to a static page and then back to “your posts” even, but to no avail. The main URL of the site continues to redirect to a static page.

As a hack I’ve put a redirect in the Apache configuration so that it forces a redirect to the 2010 archive, which for the time being is alright because I don’t have many more than ten posts for the entire year, but this isn’t always going to be the case and by the end of the year the main page is going to be huge. Not only that but as soon as I make my first post in 2011 I’ll have to change the redirect to the 2011 archive and only one post will be shown.

I’ve done all the usual Googling but I cannot find anybody else who seems to be having this problem. I’ve found people who are having the reverse problem, and there seems to be fixes for this, but not this way around.

I’m reasonably sure that it’s a 3.0 thing since I’ve created static pages in the past, before the upgrade, and this didn’t happen. If you know what it might be please leave a comment :)


FIFA World Cup 2010

People who know me well will know that I’m not normally a football fan but that I do watch the pertinent games in the World Cup every four years. That is, games with England in them and then probably the semi finals and definitely the final, whether England are in them or not (and they invariably aren’t). At a push I’ll also watch the European Championships but I’ll usually have to have absolutely nothing better to do.

So what do I think of this year’s tournament and England’s campaign? Let’s start off with some quick recaps of the qualifying games that England played:

England 2 – 2 United States

The USA always wins!

It was a poor start for England as they drew 2 – 2 against the United States, although the USA claims to have “won” the match (see left), apparently because they don’t know the difference between a win and a draw. I should also point out that the United States also lost the Battle of Bunker Hill, incidentally (a pyrrhic victory for the British, but nonetheless not a defeat). Unimpressed, the fans believed that it could only get better after what was seen as a false start.

England 0 – 0 Algeria

But no. In true British style the England team managed to make a bad situation even worse by delivering another draw, except this time it was without any goals at all (and therefore no points), with Algeria of all opponents. Algeria, incidentally, lost seven out of their last eight games (the eight was the draw with England). It was a dismal, piss poor performance from what is supposed to be a world-class team made up of incredibly well paid world-class premier league players. Still at least they didn’t actually lose the match, eh?

England 1 – 0 Slovenia

This match meant that we scraped through to the last 16, and whilst it was the result that we needed, it was hardly an amazing performance and certainly not the goal count that England should have delivered after 90 minutes with Slovenia. Had we drawn this game like we did the previous two games then our progression would have been decided by another game. Had we lost it we’d have been out of the tournament with no question. A net profit of one goal between three games in the qualifiers from what’s supposed to be a world-class team is a little bit poor, frankly, even if it is all we needed to get through. It doesn’t bode well for the last 16, let alone the finals should we make it that far.

What now?

We’re through to the last 16, which is the important thing, but England really need to up their game if they are to get any further. Each subsequent game in the World Cup only gets more difficult with increased pressure. This increases exponentially if and when the finals are reached. Don’t get me wrong, I have every hope that England will succeed in this tournament, but I’m definitely not getting my hopes up at this stage. Every time England reach the finals in these tournaments it’s always seen as lucky and a fluke, and our hopes are always ultimately dashed. I’m afraid that I’ve no evidence to suggest that it’s going to be any different this year based on performance so far.

Since there’s going to be more to come from England during this tournament I will either update this blog or follow it up with another one as and when there’s something to report and comment on. Since writing this blog it transpires that we’ll be playing Germany on Sunday, so if past tournaments and games against Germany are anything to go by our chances aren’t all that great.

Players’ wages

Now I’m going to re-hash a long-standing rant that I’ve talked about before on this blog a number of times over the years. I think footballer players’ wages should be performance-related, like many normals jobs are. I believe that rather automatically receiving these giant sums of money each week regardless of how well football players perform during games, players should receive a basic salary (say £25,000 per year) and then a bonus for each goal. These bonuses can be huge (within reason), I don’t care, but players on a team should only receive them if if they score goals. I’ve no problem with people earning lots of money for being good at their job, but I just don’t believe that anybody should be paid if they do not do their job properly. Not winning a football game to me suggests that the players aren’t doing their jobs properly, it’s as simple as that. If I did my job badly or incorrectly I certainly wouldn’t expect to be paid for it, why should it be any different for footballers, especially given the frankly excessive levels of wage they are paid?

Update 27/06/2010 – England 4 -1 Germany: They think it’s all over, it is now! An absolutely shocking performance from England against Germany (4-1) means that we’re now out of this year’s tournament, the disallowed goal notwithstanding (FIFA really need to get their head around this whole “modern technology” thing; horse racing and many other sports have been using it for decades). It is, apparently, the worst performance by England in the history of the World Cup. One would hope that it could only get better from here in future tournaments, but I’m frankly not holding out much hope. Tomorrow the air will be filled with the stench of burnt polyester England flags on barbecues and the country will be back to normal. Thank heaven for that.

Brazilian footballer name generator

Finally, I’ve resurrected this from an ancient blog that I posted during the 2002 World Cup because I still think that it’s funny:


Obama loses his shine over BP oil slick mayhem

With the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico still unfolding and still with at least two months to go before it’s going to even start getting better, I think it’s now time to add my tuppence worth, since a lot has happened in the two months since the disaster started and I don’t want to lose track of things.

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on 20th April killing all aboard and eventually sank leaving an uncapped oil well on the sea floor.

I do not for one minute want to imply that this disaster is anything other than epic. It is the world’s third most serious oil spill in history and the second most serious spill caused by an industrial accident rather than a war (the most serious spill was during the first Iraq War, and we have some way to go before the amount of oil spilt in the Gulf of Mexico exceeds that spilt in Iraq). I do not however believe that BP are being treated fairly over it, nor that the United States are in any position to lecture BP (and, by extension, Britain) on industrial accidents. Let’s have a brief look at their record from the 1980s:

Union Carbide gas disaster

In December 1984 the Union Carbide chemicals plant in Bhopal leaked lethal chemicals into the surrounding environment, exposing over 500,000 people and ultimately killing 15,000. The accident happened as a result of endemic mismanagement and violations of health and safety procedures. Union Carbide eventually paid $470m in compensation 15 years later, equivalent to $940 per exposed victim. The Union Carbide plant in Bhopal now stands derelict and the area is still contaminated. Neither Union Carbide or their new owners Dow Chemical have made any attempt at cleaning it up. It is the world’s worst industrial disaster in terms of human deaths*.

Piper Alpha explosion and fire

In July 1988 the Piper Alpha oil rig in the North Sea, operated by US firm Occidental, was destroyed in an explosion and fire which killed 167 workers, leaving only 59 survivors. The enquiry that followed was critical of Piper Alpha’s operator, Occidental, which was found guilty of having inadequate maintenance and safety procedures, but no criminal charges were ever brought against it.

Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill

In March 1989 the Exxon oil tanker Exxon Valdez hit the Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound and spilt a minimum of 750,000 barrels of oil into the surrounding waters. The collision happened as a result of a combination of factors, including broken sonar equipment (which Exxon Valdez Shipping considered too expensive to repair and operate) and crew fatigue and workload caused by the company’s failure to provide a sufficient crew. They were initially ordered to pay $287m in actual damages and $5b in punitive damages but this was reduced to a total of $507m after a series of appeals from Exxon. Hundreds of thousands of birds and animals were killed and the effects of the spill were felt for years afterwards.

The point of reminding everyone about these incidents is that nobody has a perfect record when it comes to this sort of thing. These things happen, thankfully not all that often, but they do happen and they will continue to happen, although their frequency will no doubt become less and less as technology and regulation improves over time. In this regard I think that it’s completely unfair and unnecessary to vilify British Petroleum over the Deepwater Horizon disaster. I have absolutely no doubt that they are doing all they can to contain this disaster and will continue to make amends far into the future. But they cannot do that if they are basically going to be wiped out by an angry and vengeful United States government and frankly hypocritical United States big oil companies.

Insatiable thirst for oil

The only reason why we have deep water drilling projects in the first place is because our insatiable appetite for oil and oil based products has meant that resources that are easier and cheaper to exploit are now running low and so we have to look to more expensive and risky sources. Oil companies from all around the world seem to have no problem in doing whatever is necessary to satisfy this thirst. It just so happens that an accident has happened to BP, but in all reality it could have happened to Exxon, Chevron, Shell or any other oil company, and if what I’ve learnt in the news about the response plans for such a disaster being identical between all these companies then it really was just a case of luck as to who would have to deal with it first.

Clean Energy

For decades and decades huge oil companies have wielded disproportionate amounts of power in the business and political arenas of the United States. Some recent presidents have been little more than puppets for Big Oil. Thankfully the current president isn’t, but he still represents a country that makes a hell of a lot of money out of oil. I applaud his commitment to cleaner energy that he has announced since this disaster happened, but I do rather feel that it’s like trying to rub ointment into a gaping wound at this point. For years and years oil companies have been suppressing clean energy technologies and companies that would otherwise threaten their business by quietly buying them up and shutting them down, without fear of any reprisals from government or politicians. This has to stop and oil companies have to appreciate that, like record companies, their business models need updating in this modern world.

Compensation hypocrisy

BP is a key company in most UK pension funds, which means that this disaster is going to severely impact those funds. This is serious news in an economy that is barely out of recession and now has a deficit of extraordinary proportions following a devastating financial downturn, a financial downturn which, not incidentally, was in part caused by the United States in the first place. So if we’re going to start talking about massive amounts of compensation from BP to the United States and the people whose livelihoods are being affected by this let’s also start talking about compensation to the UK from all the financial institutions in the United States who brought about the banking crisis and the meltdown that followed it two years ago. Until then I’m not interested.

It should also not go un-noted that the Deepwater Horizon rig was leased by BP from an American company and was operated by American employees, to provide a product that would feed the American market. BP really are just the unlucky face of this enterprise. In future I don’t expect they’ll make the same mistake again and just let American companies make and take the flack for their own mess.


So, rant over. In conclusion, let BP get on with the job and stop hassling them. It’s better to let them spend the time doing rather than explaining when something goes wrong, like any techie will tell you. It would be a different story if it was an American company rather than BP, the fact that it wasn’t an American company is down to nothing more than shear luck.

I have a lot of respect for Barrack Obama, more than I’ve ever had for any other United States president in my lifetime. He has utterly transformed the image of the United States in this country and internationally following the disastrous reign of George Bush Jnr. But as the title of this post suggests, he’s definitely lost his shine over this and needs to be careful not to undo all his good work by pandering hypocritical outrage at home.

* I personally consider the Chernobyl disaster to be the world’s worst industrial accident, even though far fewer people were killed either directly or indirectly.


Salford IT and AV installation job progress

I’ve been working on the next stage of the IT and AV installation job I’m doing at a friend’s house in Eccles this week. It’s second fix now which means the plastering, tiling and (most of) the painting and decorating has been done, so the job this week was to attach 69 CAT6 sockets to the CAT6 runs pulled through the house and solder all the home cinema faceplates on the speaker cables that we ran through the walls (all 10 of them). Fiddly jobs in places, but no major snags or hiccups, so far at least. When we come to test each and every cable will of course tell us whether we don’t just believe that we’ve done a good job!

All but two of the speaker cables terminate on this one plate, which all has to be soldered.

The next and final stage before equipment install (i.e. the final infrastructure installation stage will take place in a few weeks once the builders have finished the basement, where all the cables terminate and the equipment rack will be situated. Although I have all the bits we need to finish this I can’t do it because the basement to the house is not yet secure. Once the walls are finished and the external doors to the basement are fitted I can move the equipment in and finish it. Then it’ll be the big test.

There are also 12 runs of CAT6 that I’ve not yet been able to do anything with simply because the walls on which they will sit haven’t yet been built, so I’ve just run the cables to the ceiling or floor at the point at which they will eventually be and left sufficient length coiled up ready. Part of that was lifting up huge slabs of concrete out of the floor in the new kitchen which, with hindsight, would have been better done wearing a pair of gloves.

Once it’s all done my “client” can then think about home cinema and computer networking equipment. Right now he just wants to concentrate on getting the builders finished and out so that he can move back in again. I hope he doesn’t think that he “over-egged” the installation. Certainly, a 69 run CAT6 structured cabling system is definitely on the upper end of what you would normally put into a house, even of that size, and he may not even be able to buy a Dolby 9.1 home cinema system for a while. The point is that the infrastructure will make the house very future-proofed, which is what he wanted.