Random drivel generated by senile dispepsia.

Unlike every other weblog you ever saw, this one is in correct chronological order so you can read it the right way round. But it always shows you the latest entry first so scroll up for earlier stuff.

The 2024 index will appear here in a mo ...

That's rich

Rich Communication Services (RCS) have been supported by Google on Android phones for some time and are about to reach iPhones. Here is an explanation of what RCS is.

RCS is effectively an upgrade to the standard messaging services, known generally as "texts". The standard — and often free — method is Short Message Service (SMS). There is also a more expensive system called Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), which, as the name implies, you can use to send photos, videos and files. RCS adds the power of MMS without the expense — so long as the recipient has also enabled RCS on their phone.

If the person you are sending to has not enabled RCS, the ⫸ send symbol will indicate that it will be transmitted as SMS or MMS.

A big advantage is that RCS shows symbols beside a message to indicate that it is being sent ⏱, has been sent ✓ , delivered ✓✓ and when it has been read ✓✓. That is helpful if you have friends who do not use their mobile phones very often! The reverse as also true — they can see when you have read their message.

Unlike ordinary messages, RCS may also be sent over Wi-Fi, useful in poor data signal areas and to save on data costs.

To enable RCS in the Messages app, tap your profile icon at the top-right and then Messages settings and then RCS chats. If you can't find 'RCS chats', tap Chat features.

National name calling

With the breakup of Yugoslavia into different Balkan states, the area around Skopje took the name Macedonia to reflect the history and tradition of the inhabitants. This caused a problem for neighbouring Greece who feared a possible move to join with their northern territory that shared similar history back to Alexander the Great. After lengthy discussions it was finally agreed that the newish state would adopt the name North Macedonia. Problem solved - for them. Problem created for The addition to Hans Veenendaal's Rally Listing of a North Macedonia rally wasn't recognised by our obtuse programming. It took some hours to track down several locations where the country's identity is checked for place, flag and name. Why couldn't they simply call the place Peonia?

Within living memory many countries have changed their names to mark their break from colonialism or for political reasons. In Africa, Bechuanaland, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Belgian Congo, French Equatorial Africa, French West Africa, French Guinea, (German) South West Africa. In Asia, French Indo China, Siam, Burma, East Pakistan, Ceylon, Persia, Palestine. British and Dutch Guiana in South America and British Honduras whose BFPOs were always mentioned on Two Way Family Favourites.

We have had to learn new names for all of those places over the years, Yet we still adhere to our own names for our neighbours. Deutschland is called Germany, España Spain, Magyarország Hungary, Česko Czechia, Slovensko Slovakia, Polska Poland, Lietuva Lithuania, Eesti Estonia, Suomi Finland, Norge Norway, Sverige Sweden, Schweiz (or is it Confederation Helvetica?) Switzerland and Nederland most incorrectly Holland! It depends if you are a stamp collector, but most of the names sound foreign.

At least most people know what country they live in. The Scots know as do the Welsh. It's only people in England who aren't quite sure, when asked, if they are from Great Britain or the United Kingdom. Just look at your passport and the plate on your motorcycle.

Artificial stupidity

It's 13 months since I predicted that Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT would take over the world and it seems that they are well on the way ... except...

Embers cycle on Thursdays so that they can be reasonably flexible and delay until Friday, or exceptionally, ride a day earlier if the weather demands. This month the weather forced our hands (or legs) to change twice. But we still managed to ride five times. When will be the next year that there are five Thursdays in February?

I asked ChatGPT and was assured it would happen in 2036. Oh dear, is Google Calendar wrong? I don't think so.

Asking conversational sweetie Pi.AI resulted in a chirpy "There will never be five Thursdays in February because there are only 28 days". Oops. A failing of the education system; there is another line to the rhyme "Except in leap years when there are 29." When pressed, sweetie Pi reasoned that it will occur in 2029. Pi.AI and pigs might fly!

A Windows 10 update placed a Copilot icon at my disposal. Asked the same question it confidently responded that, after this year, it would occur again at a suitable leap year, the next being 2026. Not just wrong, not even a leap year! Since then, Copilot has flown off my PC and the Bing version of Copilot said 2036.

Google, who are breaking new ground with quantum computers, offered the help of Gemini. After briefly pondering the question, Gemini concluded the next occurence would be in 2029. Null points.

What we need to do next is make these LLMs argue the point with each other, so the human race is guaranteed to survive until 2052.

Mother's Day photos

It is quite understandable that we should become wary of photographs and videos that are manipulated to cause harm. Deep fakes of people apparently recommending a product or doing something we would not expect. But the furore over the Princess of Wales family photo needs to be taken in context. The media has been quick to "kill" the photograph, yet they are still keen to accept advertisements for items that look nothing like the picture on the tin.

Here at we shamelessly alter photos to make them works of imagination rather than historical records. Photos are straightened, cropped, colourized and photoshopped to emphasise the subject. Here are a couple of examples.

The things often airbrushed out are wheelie bins, photo-bombing cars and telegraph poles growing out of the top of someone's head. I've occasionally swapped faces, and some smarty-pants phones will now do that for you.
Please don't "kill" my photos!

April fool me

After lambasting current free AI's inability to work out their Leap Years, today I have Easter egg on my face.

It all began when I noticed that the average rate of work shown on the statistics productivity chart was not working for March. (It's fixed now)

Inspection showed it was counting the files correctly, but the time taken was reported as NaN (Not a Number) In fact, the chart didn't recognise Sunday 31 March. I suspected confusion about which months are Calendar (1-12) and which are JavaScript (0-11). Many mistakes boil down to that quirk. But our Calendar was handling 31 March fine and even recognising it is Easter Sunday.

We identify the last day of the month by finding the first day of the next month and subtracting a day. In JavaScript ...
1 day = 1000millisecs×60secs×60mins×24hours.

...except the first summertime Sunday is only 23 hours. So subtracting a day from the first of April this year skipped over the preceding Sunday and took the date to 11pm Saturday 30 March!

Another bodge job fixed that issue. I will also bear in mind that the first Sunday of wintertime is 25 hours long.

And maybe a little less hubris about AI in future. There is little difference between expecting AI to give the correct answer or trusting JavaScript with my error prone input.

Note to self: Watch for similar errors in autumn 2027, spring 2030, autumn 2032, autumn 2038 and spring 2041. AI answers for this time period...

ChatGPT gets 1 correct, 3 wrong.
Pi.AI gives 3 correct and 5 wrong.
Copilot none correct, 4 wrong.
Gemini none correct and 7 wrong.

- Ben Crossley