Category Archives: General

Smiffy Returns

I will start with an excuse: I have been busy. This is why there have been no updates to Smiffy's Place for a couple of weeks. I have been mostly tied up with work, but much has happened, some worthy of comment. I will report on significant things out of sequence and in due course.

Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

When I started Smiffy's Place, my idea was to produce a diary for myself, friends and family. However, looking back, I find much of the early content trivial and of very limited interest. Since literally anyone could access the content here, I have decided to try to improve the overall quality of material presented so that what is posted here is either interesting or useful (or both).

To this end, I have excised a few early posts; they are gone from the database and won't be coming back. I have also re-edited some posts which I thought could have been better written.

For those who like the spontaneity of the web log, sorry, I like a cleaner edit.


Last night, I finished a weeks sample of our rainwater consumption, which I am taking to be the mean. Here are a few facts and figures for your delight and delectation:

  • Our rainwater consumption in one week is 1.86 kilolitres (cubic metres).
  • We harvest 1.86 kilolitres for every millimetre of rain that falls.
  • Even if we assumed two kilolitres of water consumed every week, this only equates to 104 kilolitres per year.
  • 104 kilolitres equates to 186 millimetres of rain harvested.
  • We have had approximately 150 millimetres of rain this year, equating to a harvest of about 84 kilolitres, or approximately 80% of our annual consumption, based on two kilolitres a week.
  • Rainwater is used for everything apart from:
    • Horse troughs
    • Toilet flushing
    • Outside taps
    • Lawn irrigation
  • All water used in the house is re-used for irrigation after passing through an aerobic wastewater system.

This isn't a perfect situation, but I am pleased; our rainwater system is virtually self-sustaining, even with a below-average rainfall.

Flash! Boom! Bang! Rumble!

At last – we are really getting some rain! We are also getting a fair amount of lightning – I hope it does not hit the power lines again as they take ages to fix when it does and I have got a chicken in the oven! Just had one brief outage – glad this machine is on UPS.

Accessibility Statement

This web log aims to comply with Priorities 1,2 (at least) of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. Evaluation and repair is work in progress. This posting discusses the current situation.

OK, it seems like this static page can’t take comments! I will delve into the PHP code that forms this site and try to correct this at some point. If you would like to comment on the accessibility of this site, please do so on the post for the initial evaluation, above.


Like so many others, my daily spam intake (UBE rather than the product from Hormel Foods) was becoming beyond a joke and was consituting the greater part of my incoming e-mail.

Having had far too many false-positives from SpamCop, I was at a loss until an associate, Joseph Burford, pointed me at some alternative blacklists. Since re-configuring Sendmail late this afternoon, I have had only one spam message; my server logs told me that the Spamhaus blacklist had let me reject 10 messages (I used Let's see what tomorrow brings – hopefully much less spam!

I'll trust you if you're me.

Another interesting article from Wired News. Researchers at Stanford have found that test subjects liked and trusted a computer-generated avatar that mimicked their own body-language, albeit on a four second delay.

I was vaguely aware that one could influence others by subtly reflecting their gestures (as I couldn’t work people out at school, I read a lot of text on sociopsychology and the like) – it seems computers can do it even better.