Origins of "back-friend"

Sometimes you use words and phrases and don't think anything of them…until someone else asks what on earth you are talking about.   An example of this is “back-friend”.  My family have always used this, from my Dad's side I believe.  I have heard my grandparents use it in the past and my Dad uses it.   Needless to say it's become part of my vocabulary too, but I never though to look at the origin, and always thought everyone knew what it meant. It was my wife (who hails from Buckinghamshire) who stared blankly at me when I used it the first time, years ago, and it was only then that I started to wonder how many people knew what it was and who didn't. So, a quick Google tonight and I found a brief reference to it on “A Dictionary of Slang and Colloqual English Slang and its Analogues“:-
A splinter of skin formed near the roots of the finger-nail.
I'm still not sure how widely this is used; whether it's an old expression or just maybe regional.  Any takers?

Thankyou to ThinkMini !

It's been a busy weekend and it doesn't feel like 5 minutes since Friday evening. On Saturday the old Mini went to ThinkMini in Worcester to be checked over and have the oil changed.   Dave at ThinkMini is a top guy – if you cut him in half he would have “Mini” running through the middle of him.  An amazing source of knowledge, advice and help that shows through in his work – he really knows the cars, both old and new, inside and out.   I think he really enjoyed working on our 'Designer', saying many times that he'd never seen one in such great condition.  Most of his work these days is on the new BMW Minis but he still knows everything there is to know about the old ones.  Thanks Dave, looking forward to the next visit for the next bit of work. Saturday afternoon was watching the football and seeing Man Utd were given a royal spanking by Liverpool, along with corresponding with a couple of people regarding our old Mini possibly being published in “Mini World” mag.   The photos have gone to them, and the article is due for the July edition, released sometime in April (go figure!) – hopefully our car will get a decent mention and some good photos published. Sunday was a day out at the in-laws, with an 190 mile round trip, and I've just sat down to rest.    Can I have another weekend please?

Malvern Mini Show

I had a spur of the moment trip to the Mini show at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern today and what a great show it was.  At least a couple of hundred Minis there (a few modern BMW-crafted imposters but mainly real Minis).  The time spent on restoring, modifying and caring for these cars was as obvious as ever and there were some really stunning examples.   As usual there were slogans in back windows such as “Designed by a Genius, Hand built by Craftsmen, Modifed by a Nutter” and “45 years old and still taking the piss” and vehicles ranged from sympathetically restored to outrageously modified. I caught a lift with my Dad but really should have taken our old '88 'Designer' as it would have fitted in perfectly.  With just over 6000 miles on the clock, owned from new and in totally original condition it would have looked stunning amongst the others.  Next Saturday the old Mini goes to ThinkMini to have a 20 year treat – a full service, tune up and health-check from people who really know what they are doing with Minis, both old and new.  We went out in it last weekend after I spent the best part of the day washing, claying, polishing, waxing and doing the interior.  It looked absolutely mint at the end of it. In August we'll hopefully be taking it to IMM2009 in Birmingham, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Mini, just a stone's throw away from where they were built for so many years before moving down to Oxford.   My Dad spent many years at Austin/British Leyland/Austin Rover in Longbridge and used to have a new Mini straight off the production line.  I guess the love of these cars runs in the family.

Respect, politeness…and loads of grip and grunt

The topic of the, seemingly, detiorating levels of respect, politeness and consideration came up several times today.  A few of us went for a walk around the Business Park over lunch and it probably came up after I recountered an event that happened on the way into work today… I needed petrol today and left the M42 northbound at J4 to go to the Tesco petrol station just off the motorway.  I went over the first few sets of traffic lights and had to wait at a red light at the very last set, just before the bend and roundabout leading to the petrol station.  As I was in the (correct) right-hand lane of two I noticed a black car coming up behind me; look like it was going to wait behind me, and then changed his/her (probably 'his') mind and pulled alongside me.  Hmmm…only one reason for that – to sneak a quick start at the lights and try to get in front of me (for whatever selfish reason).  As some god-awful noise eminated from the stereo of the car next to me I couldn't be bothered to look over to see what it was and just waited for the lights, knowing damn well that if they thought they could push in in front of me then they had another thing coming. The lights changed, a little squeal from the tires of the car next to me confirmed their intention and that was the end of their little plan.   Over the lights, into the sharp left bend, hairpin back on yourself at the mini-roundabout and down to the petrol station.  I think they were about 20m behind me as I pulled onto the forecourt.  I hate people who think they can push in front, in any way – in cars, in queues, in general, and if you want to barge in front at some lights then don't try against an 192Bhp small car that loves corners with limited slip differential and dynamic stability control. Disclaimer: I don't generally drive that rapidly, I let people in when they are waiting to pull out, I'm considerate to other road users – just don't try and barge selfishly in front of me!

Windows 7 – just let me download it !

After noticing an announcement on availability of the Windows 7 public beta the other day, I sat at home last night and waited for 8pm GMT to come along to try and get my hands on one of the 2.5 million keys.  Needless to say public demand overloaded the servers and MS decided to pull the release until extra hardware had been thrown at the problem.  Today I noticed another announcement that the 2.5 million copy restriction had been lifted and that it would be generally downloadable for 2 weeks from today. So I opened Firefox, did my registration, got a product key and clicked on the 'Download' link…nothing happened….   Tried it all over again and still nothing happened.  I ended up viewing the source of the page, noticting it was using JavaScript to kick something off, hijacked the URL and opened it in my browser.  Finally I got the download working (through MS's 'download mamager' – yuck!).   At a 2.3-ish Gb download it took ages, and ages, and then with 27 mins left it decided to hang.   Arse!   MS's 'download mangler' didn't resume (what a surprise!) and said the file on the remote server had changed file size.  So either MS has put a different version online at some point in the middle of my download or it just really didn't like the fact I was running Firefox on a Mac… 🙂    On eventually finding a FAQ I noticed that the download was only alleged to work in IE7 and IE7 beta – marvellous… I think I'll boot into my Windows XP VM in VMWare Fusion tomorrow at work and kick off a download in IE7.   If MS really want to make us think they are being more open then it certainly doesn't feel like it!

BT iPlate- bargain gadget for improving your broadband speed

No, it's not another Apple product.  It's a rather simple, yet brilliant, device for those of us suffering poor broadband speeds with noisy lines, a 3-day camel journey away from the 'local' exchange. I bought the iPlate from BroadbandBuyer and it turned up today.  More top service from the excellent BroadbandBuyer site.  It's a 5 minute job at max to install and it's immediately boosted my broadband connection from something that used to be 1-1.2Meg to just over 3Meg.   What a bargain for a tenner! Time will tell what actual throughput I get but I am optimistic that it'll be a significant boost to what I am used to. If you have a poor ADSL broadband connection it's well worth a go – for £10.00 what have you got to lose?!

Draytek vs. Belkin – no contest!

Over the Christmas break I decided it was time to replace my aging ADSL broadband modem/router.  I've been using a Draytek Vigor 2600We for quite a few years now and it has given me solid, reliable service.   I hardly ever have to reboot it, months apart, and normally only when I've flooded the wireless connection somehow as it's only 802.11b.  My MacBook Pro supports 802.11n-draft and other devices in the house support 802.11g so it was time to think about a faster wireless connection. I ended up, foolishly, walking into PC World and buying (completely on a whim, without looking at any reviews) a Belkin FSD8633.  The one I have may just be a lemon and they may well not all be that bad but, what a pile of crap!  It drops the wireless connection with alarming regularity.  Drops the ADSL connection a couple of times a day.   It never works first thing in the morning and needs a power-cycle to get it working again and generally gives me no sense of confidence or quality at all.   That's after a week of usage and last night I unplugged it and put my Vigor back online in sheer frustration. The Belkin will be going back to PC World on Saturday – that'll teach me for making an impluse purchase like that with no thought when inside I knew I should steer clear of the likes of Belkin, Netgear and Linksys. I'll still probably replace this aging Vigor 2600We but need to do a bit more research first.   Current thinking is that it'll be a Draytek again – maybe the Vigor 2820n