Geeks Forum

MisterFrump: Does anyone know how I can boost the system volume in Windows XP?
Doodlefart: You don’t want to do that, mate, you’ll blow your speakers.
MisterFrump: No, it’s okay, I won’t crank it up too loud.
Doodlefart: Yeah, you say that, but I think Microsoft knows what it’s doing and if you crank it up to 11 you’ll blow your speakers.
MisterFrump: No, it’s just the volume’s too low. Anyway, does anyone know how I can boost the system volume in Windows XP?
Chunter: You’re using XP?
MisterFrump: Yes.
Chunter: You should be using Windows 7. It’s great. I know how to do it in Windows 7.
MisterFrump: Yes, I will upgrade soon.
Chunter: You should be posting to the Windows 7 forum then. I can help you in there.
MisterFrump: When I say soon, I don’t mean right now.
Chunter: When then?
MisterFrump: Not now. Do you know how to do it in Windows XP?
Chunter: I don’t know anything about Windows XP.
MisterFrump: Then why are you answering questions in the XP forum?
Chunter: There’s no one online in the Windows 7 forum. So I came into the XP forum to tell people to upgrade to Windows 7.
MisterFrump: O…kay. Well, does anyone know how I can boost the system volume in Windows XP?
Jimbo: You don’t want to do that. You’ll piss off your neighbours something chronic having your music too loud.
MisterFrump: It won’t be too loud, I promise. Do you know how to do it?
Jimbo: Nope.
Sammyboobs: And budgies.
MisterFrump: What?
Sammyboobs: They don’t like loud noise. Do you have a budgie?
MisterFrump: No, I don’t have a budgie.
Jimbo: Do your neighbours have a budgie?
MisterFrump: Not to the best of my knowledge, no. Look, does anyone know how I can boost the system volume in Windows XP?
Sammyboobs: Maybe just check with your neighbours first, see if they have a budgie.
MisterFrump: I will, I promise, before I do anything drastic. Do you know how to boost the system volume in Windows XP, Sammyboobs?
Sammyboobs: No, I usually answer questions about budgies.
MisterFrump: Then what are you doing here?
Sammyboobs: There’s no one in the budgie forum.
MisterFrump: Fine. Well, does anyone know how I can boost the system volume in Windows XP?
Doodlefart: I still say you’re going to blow your speakers.
MisterFrump: Okay look, my amp’s buggered, I can’t turn up the volume control, it’s all too quiet, I just want to find a way I can boost the system volume in Windows XP.
Twinkle: I get what your problem is.
MisterFrump: Thanks, Twinkle. So how do I do it?
Twinkle: You need a new amp.
MisterFrump: Yes, thanks, I know, but just as a workaround, just for now, do you know how I can boost the system volume in Windows XP?
Twinkle: I know how to do it in Windows 10. Why don’t you upgrade to Windows 10?
Doodlefart: I still say you’re going to blow your speakers.

Why England is Better than the USA

My response to the question in Quora “In what ways is your country better than the US?”

Speaking as an Englishman, I think it’s fair to say the colony which now calls itself the USA was a failed experiment. Essentially, anyone who was a lunatic in the 17th and 18th century was encouraged to go to the Americas where it was hoped that the fresh air and wide-open spaces could do them some good. (We sent our criminals to Australia for much the same reason). This saved on building institutions.

The religious lunatics were the ones we were most keen to export to the Americas given the British have always had mixed feelings about God, being unsure as to whether we should worship Him or He should worship us. We’re reasonably sure God is British, and all we ask is for some patriotism.

So there they were, a bunch of loonies running around the prairies chasing bison while we looked after them and protected them from the French, and suddenly they decided to stop paying their taxes. They wanted everything on welfare, basically. They said ‘Thanks for the help, don’t stop giving it, but we’re not paying for it.’ Of course, we said ‘No’, and they got silly and started chucking our tea into the sea while dressed as native Americans so they wouldn’t get the blame.

When we sent in the nurses they mistook them for soldiers, and started attacking them. By that stage we’d had enough, so we left them to it to sort it out. We weren’t bothered by that stage, we had India, the Americans meant nothing to us. History lessons in England talk a great deal about India. In most history text books, the loss of the American colony gets a sentence or two.

The most ridiculous thing the Americans did was declare their independence. That meant they were condemned, forever, to be foreigners. Think about it. ‘Foreigner’ is an English word, invented by the English, to mean anyone not English. So when they said they were no longer English but kept the language, they were condemned to eternal foreignerdom by their own language. They are even foreigners in their own homeland. Silly really, but remember we’re dealing with loonies here.

Since then they’ve come a long way culturally. They invented Mickey Mouse. And Donald Duck. And er… well, that’s about it, but it’s something to show for over a quarter of a millennium and is more, quite frankly, than we believed them capable of doing.

The English are a patient people, and we’re willing to wait around for a while longer for them to grow up, snap out of it, and drag their heels back to the motherland where they will be welcomed provided they pay their back taxes. And replace the tea. And stop banging on about God so much and get Him in perspective.

So… what’s better about England than the USA? Well… just about everything, really.

I should add here that I respect Americans. Some of my best friends are Americans. Well no, not really, but one of my best friends, an Englishman, once saw an American on a bus and said he looked okay from a distance. At least he didn’t dribble or anything.

World Leaders Sitting on the Toilet

Welcome to the World Leaders Sitting on the Toilet campaign.

The aim of the campaign is to get every world leader – be he or she the leader of a nation, or some religious or secular group with influence over the lives of millions – to submit a picture of themselves sitting on the toilet.

Sitting on a toilet is a great leveler. We all do it from time to time – the consequences of not doing so don’t bear thinking about – and world leaders are no different. It is what makes us human. Well that, language, and opposing thumbs.

It is good for us to remember from time to time that world leaders are themselves human. It is good for them to remind themselves of that fact as well. They have no extraordinary powers, they have no arcane knowledge, they are not immortal, they have no special access to any divinity, their IQs are not rated in the thousands, they’re just people. Like you. Like me. Like the bloke down the corner shop from whom you buy your milk. Fallible. Ordinary. Human. They, too, sit on toilets. Don’t be fooled by the glitter.

It is my belief that no person should gain significant levels of power over the rest of us without first submitting a photo of themselves sitting on a toilet to, say, the UN for publication. It’s a small price to pay, let’s face it. Indeed, it is so obvious this should happen that I searched the UN pages for those very pictures but, to my horror, found no such page existed.

As a stop-gap measure while they sort it out, I am hosting the page for them. If you are a world leader, please send a photograph of yourself sitting on the toilet for publication here, along with some means of verifying your identity to prove you’re not just some mischief-maker playing fast-and-loose with PhotoShop.

If some leader has significant control over your life, and millions of others, and you don’t see them pictured here, please contact them and alert them to the service so they may submit their own photo. They may not be aware the page exists. Anything’s possible.

If, after you have contacted them, they continue to be absent, you may be sure that person takes him- or herself much too seriously. Don’t vote for them again. Or protest on the streets. Or write a letter to your national press complaining about their omission. Until every such leader is represented here, we must fear hubris on the part of any absentee.

In their absence, just imagine them sitting on a toilet instead. Encourage others to do so.

There now! You see? They’re just ordinary people to be given no more – and no less – respect than any other administrator deserves. Be nice to them. But don’t kneel.

Because you see, folks, if we forget that, if we keep kneeling, looking up at them, and imagining we see them on some higher plane that doesn’t really exist, then the nonsense isn’t really their fault.

It’s ours.

This is what REALLY happened last night

Things got nasty last night on the site – you all know which site I’m referring to – and I’m going to tell everyone exactly what happened for once and for all.

It all kicked off on the I Have A Nice Bottom thread when Angelcake threatened to kill Peacenik because he farted.

Peacenik is one of the nicest guys on the site and he didn’t fart, he was just shuffling in his plastic computer chair with his mic on, but Fatbelly said he farted and Fatbelly is always following Angelcake around and giggling.

Angelcake is really Party Pooper and, as old hands will know, Party Pooper is the nastiest troll on the site. He’s been thrown off for abusing people, calling them pseudo-intellectuals and all kinds of other horrible stuff.

So really it’s Party Pooper threatened to kill Peacenik who is really Flirtyboy.

So anyway, I went to the defence of Cucumber who was getting caught in the crossfire between Badgerbaiter and Gentleman who is really Claptrap because Cucumber had fallen over and broken her leg. Badgerbaiter has already been reported to the FBI, Mossad and the RSPCA for his activities on another site where he refused to stop impersonating several members of the Royal Family who are really Grandular, (Princess Anne), Happy Snaps, (Prince Edward) and Love Me Sailor, (the Queen) so as you can imagine they were getting pretty annoyed by it and had already spoken with Scotland Yard, (who is also Whomper).

Things got really nasty when Flagpole, (Bilgeflasher), told Spank Me, (Phototronic), he was a bastard (Jasper Pinkums) and owed him ten quid (previously known as Eleven Pounds Fifty).

Right here and now I want to say that it definitely wasn’t me who lost my temper (otherwise known as Pungent Nipple) with Bugflogger, or Clandestine Whelk, or Flickme Anonymous, who are all Jelly Colonoscope anyway, and everyone knows that Jelly Colonoscope is Philtrum, nor did I threaten to kick his cat, (Nostril Hairwax).

Anyway, the moderators deleted the thread, but don’t think for a moment that any of you bastards has heard the last of this.

A Yorkshire Reminiscence

I lived in Yorkshire for some years, and it’s surprising how, after only three or four of those years, I was able to see beyond the culture and the people’s strange rituals to the humanity that unites us all, even in locations as diverse as London and Sheffield. There were gaps that could never be bridged of course, and as a Londoner they found it hard to disguise their worshipful attitude towards me, though as they became more confident they would feign mockery of me as one of those “stock-op sothonn’rs”. (The only vowel sound in the local language is ‘o’ as in ‘hot’).

I learned some of the more essential aspects of the language quite quickly, such as ‘moddots’, (‘mud huts’), and I like to think I adapted rather well.

While I was there I met a young woman from another local tribe, (the Barnsleyites), a most becoming creature, though sadly – out of respect for my culture, I assume – she had dressed in the manner of Londoners for the occasion and had her breasts covered. She proved illuminating when it came to domestic life in her village. For example, they keep ants as pets. She asked me where I was from, I said London, and she told me she had an ant living there. I can just imagine her now, wanting to give her favourite pet a better life; saving up her cowrie shells over years for the donkey to take her to the capital, her ant warmly tucked up in a matchbox lined with rat fur; her tearful release of it to find its freedom in Hyde Park or some other refined location where it might profit from the stimulation a new, civilising environment had to offer.

By the time I left Yorkshire I had a rich and rewarding understanding of the people, and an attachment so deep I almost liked them.

Where’s Your Bin?

I was at a mate’s house once and wanted to throw something away. As I recall, he had a terrible habit of leaving random bits of rubbish on all his chairs, and I could never find a place to throw it. “Where’s your bin?” I asked.

“I’s been nowhere, where’s you been?” he replied.

I was very taken with this – if a little surprised at the manic laughter of my friend, and his shouting “Yes! Oh God, yes! At last!” after he said it – and was determined to use it at every opportunity. I would invite people to my home, random strangers sometimes if no one else was available, having left bits of scrap paper, empty yoghurt pots – anything I could dredge out of the bin that wouldn’t stain – on all my chairs. Wanting to sit, my visitors would ask me what to do with these random objects, and I’d reply “Aw, just throw it away,” having carefully hidden the bin. I would then await their response with eager anticipation.

“Okay,” they would say. “Where shall I put it?” or “I can’t see a bin” or “Where’s your rubbish receptacle?” Never “Where’s your bin?”

Finally, after years of doing this, someone said “Where’s your bin?” I got really excited, and yelled, “No! She went of her own accord!”

When I realised what I’d done, I burst into tears. My visitor tried to help in his confusion, but I was inconsolable.

Now, gentle reader, you are burdened as I have been burdened for all these years and you, too, must suffer. Ah! The joy of Schadenfreude.

Using Social Media for Self-Promotion

As a means of self-advertising, for the beginner at least, social media can be exceptionally frustrating. Our ‘friends’, at least when we start out, will be composed largely of people we have contact with by other means, or people who share our interests, often given that they themselves are involved in the same area. The former are likely to know about our projects already. The latter, and we’re in that awkward situation of, for example, writers selling to other writers, the ‘you buy and review mine, I’ll buy and review yours’ mutual back-scratch.

I’ve seen people dismissing social media altogether given these drawbacks. However, it’s not entirely without potential, not entirely lacking in possibility.

  • Going viral. It may just be that some post or another grabs the imagination of a few friends enough they post it on to their friends, leading a few friends of theirs do likewise. Though the chance of this happening to any great degree is slender, without social media it’s zilch.
  • A wider contact base. I’ve noticed of late that many more people are adding me to their Twitter feeds in particular. Some of them I’ve no idea who they are or why they’re adding me. I can only put it down to retweets.
  • ‘Cross-over’. Enticing other writers to buy our books, for example, feels painfully amateur, and often incurs obligations, implicit or explicit. However, also selling prints on Fine Art America and, when I get around to it, selling CDs of what I wryly call ‘my music’, (soundscapes with no ‘musical’ content as such, but with which I’m pleased all the same), there’s the chance of a writer buying a print… or, at some point, some ‘music’. A writer who buys one of my books may well expect reciprocation, and that’s fair enough. A writer who buys a print or a CD almost certainly doesn’t.
  • Broader reach. Posts on Facebook, in Twitter, on LinkedIn, Tumblr and all the rest of them increase presence in Google, and thus the likelihood of a passer by taking an interest.
  • Automatic posting. A lot of services – WordPress and Fine Art America among them – allow for the automatic posting of alerts to some, sometimes many, social media outlets, so given there’s no time expenditure at all involved, why not?
  • Points of contact. For those who have already shown an interest, perhaps even bought something, social media can become useful in alerting them to new work, or even just giving them more background on you as a personality. The present trend in marketing, even with major corporations, is to try to build up a social network where people take an interest beyond the product itself and can readily provide feedback, thereby increasing customer loyalty and a sense of connectedness. If that’s important these days for large companies projecting ‘corporate personalities’, how much more important is it for, say, authors, whose personality and ideas shape the product itself in a very real sense?

However, I don’t entirely disagree with those who condemn social media in the way they are used for self-promotion. There are certainly a large number of drawbacks. Amongst those that worry me most, personally:

  • Time-wasting. I am, paradoxically, blessed in some ways in that the Chinese government blocks many social media outlets. Getting to them is a pain. I read somewhere, (bearing in mind reading something somewhere isn’t proof of credibility unless it appears to make sense in and of itself), that writers, for example, should spend 75% of their time writing, only 25% of their time on promotion. I suspect, beyond initial announcements and occasional teasers, along with the odd ‘Here I am, this is me’ post, social media suffers immensely from the law of rapidly diminishing returns. In these sad and sorry days when it is not enough merely to be able to write, and the author also has to be an expert in marketing and, ideally, a diva in his or her own right, it’s worth remembering the #1 item on the job description is ‘Write!’ That is something, I must confess, I myself forget all too readily.
  • Loss of credibility. Having been invited into a few groups where writers boost one another artificially rather than from genuine enthusiasm, I can see the advantages for sure of having a dozen people post my promotion automatically to all their friends. However, it does have the drawback of my having to post to all my friends the promotion of a dozen people. It’s clear to many of them that much of what I’m backing isn’t something I, personally, would touch with a ten-foot pole, and thus my account becomes nothing more than a billboard, a servant of Mammon, another scuzzy commercial break shouting for attention and adding to the general racket rather than something which is expressive of myself. People going down that path may want to be wary. Either open new accounts strictly for the purpose, or make sure the people in the group you are promoting are people whose work you genuinely admire and can truly endorse. That way, your promotion of them – and, indeed, their promotion of you – will actually mean something, rather than being mindless yelling.