<< November 2003 January 2004 >>

Wednesday 31 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] Make More Mistakes
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#[linkfarm] Where are the DOOM secret levels?
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#[linkfarm] Getting Started with XForms
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Tuesday 30 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] Why Pascal is Not My Favorite Programming Language
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#[linkfarm] The IT industry is shifting away from Microsoft
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#[linkfarm] What you're about to see is incontrovertible proof that your eyes suck at blue.
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#[linkfarm] Companies take, take from Open Source
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#[linkfarm] The EarthDial Project
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#[elsewhere] I don't understand why you think the BBC has committed some outrageous piece of misreporting here.
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Monday 29 December, 2003
#They Grow Up So Fast, a continuing series
Harry's sleeping in his own room tonight. He's 10 and half weeks old. Planning to stay up reading for hours, just because I can.
smellygit said But can he make his own tea yet? [added 30th Dec 2003]
planetcutie said Now let's see how old he is when he escapes from the house for the first time. I managed it when I was 2, and I didn't even walk until I was past 1. [added 30th Dec 2003]

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Friday 26 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] g-net
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#[elsewhere] It is, I feel, my home but your house.
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Thursday 25 December, 2003
#Happy Christmas
That is all. As you were.
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Wednesday 24 December, 2003
#[elsewhere] Equally sinful is any opening paragraph containing the word herewith.
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#[elsewhere] Still don't care, because I write those things for Google.
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#[linkfarm] Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2003
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#[linkfarm] MySQL Gotchas
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#[linkfarm] Beagle probe faces its big challenge
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#[linkfarm] Linux Toys: 13 Cool Projects for Home, Office and Entertainment
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Tuesday 23 December, 2003

Anita, our cleaner, handed in her notice a couple of weeks ago, which was a bit of shame because she's really nice, and Daniel really liked her. We long ago decided that paying someone else to do the cleaning was money well spent, so put a card in the newsagent's window.

And now we have a new cleaner. He's a young chap. Which is kind of peculiar. There seems to be, no matter how cool and egalitarian you think you, some kind of inbuilt sexism that tells you that men can't hoover. Nat had to conference with all her friends before she decided to take him on. There also seems to be some kind of definite difference between getting a bloke in to fit a radiator and getting a bloke in to run round with the mop. Cleaning's more intimate somehow. Anyway, he seems to be working out ok. He spends most of his time caring for his mother, who is disabled, and he also, it turns out, does some carework for Mohammed next door. He's keen enough and seems to take instruction well, so I'm sure it's all going to go ok.

There is still a bit of a problem. Cleaning man. Just sounds peculiar, doesn't it.

smellygit said A man that does for the man that doesn't :)) [added 23rd Dec 2003]
That's it exactly :)) [added 23rd Dec 2003]

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#[linkfarm] Howard Dean for Prez Tattoo - for God's sake how stupid can you get?
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#[linkfarm] Make Antibubbles in your own Kitchen
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#[linkfarm] Catching up with Alan Cox
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Monday 22 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] 4Suite notes for Mac OS X and *BSD users
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Wednesday 17 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] Market-dominant minorities are the Achilles heel of free market democracy.
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Tuesday 16 December, 2003
#[elsewhere] a lot of what they're raving about it Janson's work
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#[linkfarm] Smart soldiers decided to flee the Rings battle
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#[linkfarm] Slingshot Santa
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Monday 15 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] The GPL is a License, Not a Contract, Which is Why the Sky Isn
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#[linkfarm] Teeny-tiny SpiderMan trailer
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#[elsewhere] touch-of-kirby
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The wonderful Boing Boing pointed to a gallery of "geek" tattoos. I'm not sure about geek, but nonetheless some of the tattoos pictured are really rather lovely. The rest make you wonder about the wisdom of making indelible marks on your own body. I'd draw your attention to this tattoo, followed by this one, this one , this one, this one and this one.

As Jim Ross says on the wrestling, this is, er, very unique.

peteychap said Yeah, I thought similar things. Some were really nice (the binary ones in particular) but tatooing yourself with Quake logos?

I think however the "individual" barcode one is a little deeper than you give it credit for. Could it be a wry comment on how commercialism has branded "those who cannot be categorised" as a category and therefore ripe for exploitation? Though I'll admit it made me think of an old Harry Enfield sketch:

"Why have you got "individual" tatooed on your forehead?"

"Well, my mate had it done, so..." [added 15th Dec 2003]

It might be a wry comment on all kinds of things, but you can make the same comment with a t-shirt - http://www.ntkmart.co.uk/ntkmart.cgi#Viral

On the other hand it might equally be a "hey, that chick in Dark Angel had a barcode on her neck and it look way cool". It could be both. [added 15th Dec 2003]

peteychap said Or "I agree with that chick from Dark Angel re: why she has that tattoo and so will join her in making this statement." At the end of the day it depends on whether the owner of the tat has a brain...

This stuff interests me - why is it so hard to assert your individuality while beig part of a group? There's a lot of strength in being part of a gang/collective/whatever, so why should this diminish your individuality? [added 15th Dec 2003]

It's no crime, but I suspect you are Dark Angel ignorant -



In Dark Angel, Max had a barcode because she was plucked fully formed from the spawning vat, which is almost the very not-definition of "individual". [added 15th Dec 2003]
"why is it so hard to assert your individuality while beig part of a group?"

now that needs more of an answer than I can fit into this little box ... [added 15th Dec 2003]

peteychap said And there was me thinking Dark Angel was a Goth/skatepunk band. Ah well...

"now that needs more of an answer than I can fit into this little box"

Which is why I only posed the question. ;) [added 15th Dec 2003]

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Sunday 14 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] Myths Open Source Developers Tell Ourselves
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Friday 12 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] Rocks: Reliable Sockets
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#[elsewhere] Slinging your knickers at Ian McKellan on the other hand, is entirely right and proper.
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#[linkfarm] yatta!
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#[linkfarm] YATTA, even more bizarre
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#[linkfarm] Yatta!
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Thursday 11 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] Thunderbirds trailer - high res
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#[linkfarm] Thunderbirds trailer
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#[linkfarm] WiFi - Deep Dish Cylindrical Parabolic Template
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#[linkfarm] Open Root Server Confederation
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Wednesday 10 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] Create System Tray Application with Windows Forms
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#[elsewhere] This month Jerry reinstalls Windows. Again.
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Tuesday 09 December, 2003
#Cooking with Pete: Christmas Pudding

Crimbo will shortly be upon us and one of my concessions to the season is making a Christmas pudding. It's really rather satisfying to serve up your pud at the end of a large festive feed and it's really quite easy, so why not have a go?

A Christmas pudding is basically a big ball of dried fruit and a bit of binding. The fruit can be more or less anything you like, and the stuff to bind is normally flour and breadcrumbs with maybe some ground almonds or something like that. A lot of recipes use eggs as the glue and sweeten the whole thing with a ton of sugar. All that dried fruit is pretty sweet anyway so I leave the sugar out and I glue it all together with a mixture of dates, milk, and treacle. Sounds ghastly, but it isn't.

Anyway, here's my recipe. It makes enough to fill a 1 litre basin. Feel free to substitute anything you don't like. This pudding comes out reasonably dense, so throw in a bit of grated carrot or apple to lighten it up if you want. Like I said, it's got no eggs so if you use oat milk and vegetable marg then it's vegan.

You will need

  1. Put all the dry ingredients, bar the dates, into a big bowl. Give it a jolly good mix. The flour and ground almonds will stick to the fruit, so keep going until it's all evenly distributed.
  2. Roughly chop the dates. Put them in a saucepan with the milk. Heat gently, stirring now and again, until the dates breakdown and it goes all mushy. Stick in the marg. Carry on stirring until it's all melted. Add the treacle, and give it another good stir.
  3. Pour the date mixture onto the dry ingredients. Add the zest and juice. Stir it thoroughly until everything is really well mixed - it will look brown and puddingy
  4. Pack the mixture into a greased pudding basin. Cover with a layer of greaseproof paper and then a layer of foil over that. If you're feeling keen, put a bit of a pleat in it. Tie the paper and foil tightly round the basin with string (you could get away with a rubber band, so long as it's really tight). Trim any excess off.
  5. Steam the pudding for four or five hours. A steamer is, obviously, ideal, but if you don't have one then just stand the basin in a large covered saucepan which is half full of water and simmer it as gently as you can.
  6. Stash the pudding away in a cool cupboard until you want to eat it. It'll keep for weeks. I've kept one for over a year with no ill-effects.
  7. When you're ready, steam it again for a couple of hours. Remove the paper and foil, put a plate over the top and then turn the whole thing over. The pudding will (should anyway, and I've never had one stick yet) drop out with a rather nice little sucking noise.
  8. Eat.

The steaming times aren't that critical - four hours then three, or six then an hour and half isn't going to do any harm. Do make sure the pan doesn't boil dry while simmering - top it up from the kettle as needed. If you're standing the pudding straight in the pan, make sure the water is below the level of the paper and foil.

If you need to get a pudding basin, you'll want a 1 litre basin to fit all this fruity goodness in. They're not expensive and you can get them from your local hardware place, or from somewhere like Woolies.

smellygit said I bet when you wrote this you never thought Woolies would go bust! [added 1st Dec 2008]

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#Monkeying with fetchmail and multidrop mailboxes

Finally decided to let my Demon subscription lapse. For the last few years, I've been routing jezuk.co.uk mail through to jezuk.demon.co.uk and picking it up from there. Nobody but spammers sends mail directly to jezuk.demon.co.uk anymore, I've got the cable modem so I don't use the Demon dial-up, and all my webpages live here, so it's money that doesn't need to be spent any more.

Mail to any jezuk.co.uk address all winds up in the same mailbox. At this end it all gets picked apart, so that Nat's mail goes to her, Daniel's to him, the various mailing lists to the appropriate bots, and everything else ("Enlarge your p'e'n'i's" mostly) ends up with me. While I was fetching the mail from Demon, that was easy because Demon's POP3 setup was especially jiggled to make that kind of thing easy. Now I'm picking it all up from my mail provider, it's a bit more tricky.

My mail gateway will happily grab everything from the POP3 box, and send Nattle's mail to her, and so on. When it sees something from a mailing list though, which isn't explicitly addressed to someone, it packages it in an attachment before forwarding it to the default account (me). Not super.

So I had a hunt around for something else to scrape the mail, and the only real candidate is fetchmail. Happily it runs under Cygwin (virtually all the useful stuff running on my server machine now seems to be Cygwinised versions of Linux programs - I really should move it over sometime), and a small bit of config file hackery had it grabbing mail. And forwarding it all to me. Every bit of it.

To the FAQs. While multidrop mailboxes like mine are really rather common, the fetchmail docs council against them. That's fair enough in an ideal world, but you've got to deal with what you've got. fetchmail's author, Eric Raymond, has written at length about the open source development process, and interesting stuff it is too. He often cites his experience with fetchmail, sometimes holding it up as a kind of canonical project, an exemplar even. I'd only note that while the code itself works exactly as advertised, the documentation is best described as lacking. This is a common criticism of software of all stripes, and is an accusation that can also be levelled at my projects.

For a little while I considered lumping up 50 quid to get multiple mailboxes. I Googled around a bit for an alternative package. All I want is to grab mail from a POP3 box and to forward it based on the To: header. How hard could it be? However, while going mad scanning up and down the man page, I saw a folder option.

folder Specify remote folder to query

Folders. That's an IMAP thing. UKShells has IMAP access. I rejigged the config, and grabbed mail via IMAP. And delivered it all to me. Another microbrainwave. I could use server-side filtering to deliver Nattle's mail into it's own IMAP folder. Then fetchmail could grab the mail from that folder, and forward it to her. Could it?

Ptptptptp! It could. A few more minutes setting up folders for the other jezuk.co.uk addresses, a few more lines in the fetchmail config, and it's all done. A multidrop mailbox gamed into multiple mailboxes.

If you're here via Google, here's the summary you probably would have preferred at the start of this little ramble.

planetcutie said I've recently ended a long running dispute with Demon. Namely them trying to charge me 233.25 for an account I cancelled last year. A simple and vaguely offended email set it right on 8th December - one of the best birthday presents I've had. Still, it brings home the lack of 'joined up thinking' between a company's 'online' staff and those who deal with the financial side, [added 11th Dec 2003]

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Monday 08 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] Remedial XML: Learning to play SAX
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# What is the point of putting a washing label in a piece of clothing when that washing label is printed with non-colourfast ink?
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#[linkfarm] so we needed something more complex and expensive because the response to any IT problem is to spend more money making things more complex
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#[linkfarm] cygwin sshd setup
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#[linkfarm] Setting up TightVNC and SSH on a Windows NT machine
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#[linkfarm] Setting up Cygwin SSHD
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#[linkfarm] Setting up SSH/SFTP on Cygwin Windows
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#[elsewhere] I do enjoy a good bit of Sage Derby with a bottle or two of IPA
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Sunday 07 December, 2003
#[Arabica] Bug fix : SAX2DOM can't parse XML with NS
It can now.
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#[linkfarm] I wrote much of the original patent text for the lawyers, highlighting what I thought was novel and non-obvious about it, but the revised patent application came back transformed into something for which two of my more senior colleagues were the primary inventors
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#[Arabica] Just committed some Makefile patches for OSX, submitted by Peter Beerli of Florida State University. Thanks Peter.

I've upgraded my Windows development machine to VS.NET 2003, which annoyingly makes changes to the .sln and .vcproj files. Haven't committed those to CVS yet, but would there be any objections?
anonymous said Please do. [added 24th Jan 2004]

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Friday 05 December, 2003
# Besides, she's a psycho hose beast.
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#[linkfarm] Agent 2.0 Add-in: SAPI 4 control panel applet
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#This crazy stuff really works ...
Subject: ENERGIS ABUSE TICKET : 731200 (Energis subscriber relaying spam)
From: Energis Abuse Dept 731200

We have traced and verified the account(s) that related to the issue you reported. We have dealt with the user(s) in accordance with our policies and procedures that relate to the terms of service agreed by the account holder.

We do not comment on specific cases, but can outline our procedures on request. Please note that due to the Data Protection Act 1998 we will not disclose personal data relating to our users to third party complainants unless legal action is taken through the appropriate channels (i.e. through either the criminal justice system or through the civil courts).

Network Integrity Team

Not quite as chatty as foreThought.net, but still a result. Be nice to hear something from all the tickets I've raised with BTOpenworld ...
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Wednesday 03 December, 2003
#[linkfarm] XSLT Best Practice
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#In the park ...
Our Goose The Bean and Our Goose
Our Goose is fearless The bad-tempered White Goose is not
Moseley Private Park, 19 October.
smellygit said they aren't blurry enough :p [added 3rd Dec 2003]
How *did* I know you were going to say that ... [added 3rd Dec 2003]
smellygit said because u knew they weren't blurry enuff? [added 3rd Dec 2003]
especially not after I'd Gimped them sharper :)) [added 3rd Dec 2003]

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#[elsewhere] ... very reluctantly provided titles ...
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Tuesday 02 December, 2003
#Yay for forethought.net

In a fit of joejob pique, I fired off a big pile of abuse@... complaints over the weekend. Top marks to foreThought.net - not only did a real person reply to my mail, but he'd done something about it too. Yay for them!

Hi Jez,

I've found out the user who was online with that IP address, and after speaking with him, it appears that his computer was being used as an open relay. He'll be working with a consultant over the next few days to make sure that his computer won't be used for a similar purpose in the future.


I believe the other bounces also indicate people unknowingly running open mail relays - probably as a result of virus or trojan infection. This is a minor anti-spam victory, but a victory none the less.

smellygit said it was within days of Chrystal running it's own exchange/smtp server that we were blacklisted, that version of exchange ran an open relay by default .... [added 2nd Dec 2003]
ajbattrick said You think it would be unreasonable for each ISP, after authenticating a new ADSL / dialup / whatever connection onto their network, waiting 5 minutes and then testing to see if there is a open relay running? [added 5th Dec 2003]
No, I don't, especially if the terms of service say you shouldn't be. My Telewest TOS say I can run any server I like, so long as it's controlled by a username/password.

However, in the current crop, I don't think the machine pissing out jezuk job-jobs are running ill-configured SMTP servers. The headers on the mail makes it seem like they are originating from these DSL subscribers. However, since the machines concerned are all across the world, yet appear to be working in concert to run alphabetically through seemling every possible AOL address, I think they've been trojaned. They're unknowingly running remailers specifically designed to disguise the real origin of the message. We can also probably guess they're running some flavour of Windows and using Outlook as their mail client. Hopefully, a sharp word from their ISP will get them to buck their ideas up a bit. Hopefully :( [added 7th Dec 2003]

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# Parents 'bribing' heads for places - ... The school alerted the police after a father refused to accept that his child was not eligible for a place ... At Clare House Primary school in Bromley, Kent, Beverley Feather was offered 3,000 to ignore the fact that an address was outside the catchment area ... Dr Feather said she sympathised with parents, as choice of schools was really a "fiction"

Primary schools admission policies are generally along the lines of
- siblings of existing pupils
- remaining places allocated on the basis of how far you live from the school
How far the catchment radius of a school extends depends on the number of applications in a given year, and the proportion of siblings with in that. For the schools near us, in some years the catchment hasn't extended even half a mile.

For religious schools there are normally an extra couple of layers
- siblings of existing pupils
- members of the schools particular religion
- members of other religions
- remaining places allocated on the basis of how far you live from the school

There are eighteen primary schools with a mile of us. Of the five nearest, one is C of E, one is Catholic and one is Jewish. All of them are, it seems, very good schools. All of them would drop Daniel to the bottom of their admissions list, although we don't intend to apply to any of them. We would rather Daniel didn't attend a religious school, nor would we be keen for him to attend a school where the pupils are overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly asian or overwhemlingly black. That doesn't reflect the reality of his life.

So if we disregard the religious schools, we're left with twelve schools. As a general rule of thumb, schools in Balsall Heath and Sparkbrook will have a predominantly asian or black intake. That isn't at all to suggest that these are bad schools. Nelson Mandela Primary School seems to be a terrific school - it's Ofsted report glows - but I don't think sending Daniel to a school where 85% of the intake has English as a second language is going to be a terrifically good idea for him. If we, for the sake of argument, disregard those schools that leaves three.

The school we'd really like Daniel to attend is King's Heath Infant and Junior, where he currently goes to nursery. It's got a very mixed intake, both in terms of ethnicity and family income. It seems to be a very friendly and happy school - from my brief visit anyway. It's where we would like Daniel to go. We do have parental choice after all.

That choice is largely illusory. We're nearly a mile from the school, so we'll be down the list when places are allocated. As far as I know, the allocation by geography only takes into account straight line distance. It doesn't take into account where schools are in relation to each other. People living closer to King's Heath J & I are also on the doorstep of Moseley C of E school and King David's. If they're religious they'd be laughing - apply to all three and you'd be prefered by all of them through for reasons of religion and/or distance. As a family who aren't religious - and who arn't prepared to pretend to be - and who can't afford and don't want to move, we're actively discrimated against by a third of the local schools and left to the whims of geography for the rest.

I don't find it at all surprising that some people end up offering either bribes or violence.

planetcutie said Education? Oh, don't get me started... [added 4th Dec 2003]

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Monday 01 December, 2003
#[elsewhere] Xenu loves you
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