MSN Messenger down

MSN Messenger error messages
I guess that means that the MSN Messenger website is down, then!

Look what I found! I’ve been trying to login to MSN Messenger for a couple of hours now, without success and having tried to access the Service Status page and getting an error I checked out the main MSN Messenger website. And that’s what I saw, above.

The current MSN Messenger Service Status is:


The requested URL could not be retrieved

While trying to retrieve the URL:

The following error was encountered:

  • Unable to forward this request at this time.

This request could not be forwarded to the origin server or to any parent caches. The most likely cause for this error is that:

  • The cache administrator does not allow this cache to make direct connections to origin servers, and
  • All configured parent caches are currently unreachable.

Footprint 3.0/FPMCP
Generated Tue, 06 Dec 2005 17:52:40 GMT by (Footprint 3.0/FPMCP)

I guess that means there’s a problem.

Beautiful photographs of snow crystals

Photograph of a snow crystal
Photograph of a snow flake, from the Rasmussen & Libbrecht Collection.

I stumbled across this website via is a website all “about snow crystals and snowflakes — what they are, where they come from, and just how these remarkably complex and beautiful structures are created, quite literally, out of thin air.”

The snowflakes and crystals photograph collection is so beautiful, it almost makes me want to cry; I have the same sense of wonder and awe when looking at photographs of distant galaxies.

These snow flakes have such exquisite and delicate beauty, and each one unique. It makes me want to praise God just looking at them.

And we have the audacity to complain when it snows!

Cartoon Church or Real Church?

Cartoon, explanation for which is in the text of this post
Cartoon from The “How you can use the cartoons” page says nothing about linking to them from a website. So here’s one of them! Not because I want to rip it off, but because I want you to go see the rest of them!

I realised this evening that my link to the Technorati website didn’t make the leap from WordPress 1.2 sidebar (right!) to 1.5. I’ve rectified this now.

Technorati is great. Amongst other things it will tell you what other blogs link yours. An example: what other blogs link mine.

Exploring the links I came across the excellent and this rather wonderful cartoon (above), which shows a church noticeboard that reads:

Our services are a bit dull and not many people turn up, we do not have a website as we do not really know how to make one, and there is not anyone available to speak to you at the moment as we are all quite busy, what with one thing and another. PS We need some money for the roof.

“We do not need to get someone in to help us with marketing our church as we are perfectly able to do it ourselves,” say the parishioners. That cartoon feels rather uncomfortably close to the truth, I’m sorry to say.

My JIIG-CAL results from 1985

My JIIG-CAL results
My JIIG-CAL results print out from June 1985. Yes, that’s geniune ye olde 128 line, tractor-feed computer paper.

Thinking about what I’m going to do next I looked out my JIIG-CAL print out from 1985 to see what it had suggested that I do.

JIIG-CAL stands for “Job Ideas & Information Generator – Computer Assisted Learning” and is a software application that helps students to work out, based on a simple questionnaire, what they would be good at career-wise.

In 1985, while I was in fourth year at Selkirk High School, I remember sitting in a classroom filling in the JIIG-CAL questionnaire, which then had to be sent to the Borders Regional Council headquarters to be entered into a computer (probably the size of a lorry!) and a few weeks (!!) later we received back a dot-matrix print-out with our recommended career paths. (How things have changed.)

Here’s what mine said, it’s dated 26 June 1985 (that’s over twenty years ago!!):

  1. Statistician (8/10) – Skills: logical, numerical ability, good self-expression, co-operative
  2. Occupational Therapist (8/10) – Skills: good organiser, resourcefulness, sympathetic, good with your hands
  3. Youth & Community Worker (8/10) – Skills: outgoing personality, good organiser, energy, tolerant
  4. Social Worker – Fieldwork (8/10) – Skills: sympathetic, pleasant manner, able to inspire confidence, patience
  5. Assistant Prison Governor (8/10) – Skills: able to understand other people’s problems, leadership, good administrator, able to discipline
  6. Mathematician (8/10) – Skills: good concentration, logical, analytical, good self-expression
  7. Probation Officer (England/Wales) (8/10) – Skills: able to inspire confidence, perseverence, resilience, sympathetic
  8. Social Worker – Residential (8/10) – Skills: able to inspire confidence, perseverence, resilience, sympathetic
  9. Insurance Underwriter (8/10) – Skills: sound judgement, honesty, able to take responsibility, accuracy
  10. Physicist (7/10) – Skills: scientific approach, numerical ability, good reasoning power, accuracy

So there you go! I’d forgotten that it had suggested that I ought to become an Assistant Prison Governor. I wonder why only ‘Assistant’, what skills would I need to become a full Prison Gov’nor? I loved this skill required: “able to understand other people’s problems” … yeah, but we’ll lock them up anyway!

What I find fascinating, and which I think probably does still apply to me, is that I seem to have been suggested jobs which are either entirely people-oriented (occupational therapist, social worker, asst prison gov’nor) or are predominantly theoretical (statistician, mathematician, physicist). Hmm… head or heart?


Friday 20 June 2008 I’m now featured on the BBC News Scotland website. Check out this new blog post: Jiig-Cal and BBC Scotland, which includes a video blog post by me using Seesmic.