Tech Annoyances #624


Do you use the “Send to” folder in Windows? I do. In most cases, it’s easier to right-click a file and choose “Send to > Mail Recipient” than it is to open a new email and attach the file manually. And before I started using Notepad++ (which adds an “Open with Notepad++” entry to the context menu), I’d often add a shortcut to Notepad to the SendTo folder; this allowed me to open any type of file by right-clicking and choosing “Send to > Notepad”.

A couple of nights ago I was thinking about how often I drag and drop files from some folder on my computer to my Dropbox folder, and I thought how cool it would be to add Dropbox to the SendTo folder. But then I thought it would be even better to have a Dropbox folder in SendTo, with shortcuts to my different Dropbox folders, like “Photos” and “Public”. That way I could just right-click a file and choose “Send to > Dropbox > Public” to share a file with someone.

Only problem is, Microsoft completely screwed this up in Windows Vista and Windows 7 (and, if I could figure out how to test it, possibly Windows 8). In Windows XP, you could easily do such a thing by creating a subfolder in the SendTo folder and adding whatever shortcuts you wanted to that folder. The subfolder would expand and you’d could access the shortcuts there:

XP Send to
Click to enlarge

In Vista, Microsoft changed this so that you can still put a folder in SendTo, but it no longer expands… so no more cascading icons for you:

Win 7 Send to
click to enlarge

WHY would Microsoft remove such a handy feature from the “latest and greatest” versions of their operating system? I can’t imagine that it posed any kind of security threat, and the people who really used the feature must have really liked it. Say you’re a software\web developer of some kind, and you use several apps to edit various documents. In XP could could have them all in one handy SendTo subfolder; in Vista\7\8, you have to put every one in the root of SendTo, making it harder to use and a mile long. Good job, Microsoft!


Is anyone else getting sick of seeing this on Google results pages?

Google WTF
click to enlarge

I was searching for a place to buy those limited edition Lay’s potato chips, and Google “helpfully” corrected me by showing me the results for “Lays” chips instead of “Lay’s” chips. The only problem is… the brand name of the chips is Lay’s:

Lay's Chips

I also like how every result in my screen cap refers to them as “Lay’s” chips!

This is happening more and more often. Not long before Christmas, I thought I’d search for a friend from elementary school. His last name is “Saunders”. Google instead showed me “Sanders”. There is no famous person with my friend’s first name and the last name “Sanders” (no, his first name wasn’t “Colonel”). As near as I could tell, there are as many semi-famous “Sanders” as there are “Saunders”. So thanks, Google. Ever tried searching for the Petroleum Research Fund by its initials – PRF? You get “Showing results for PDF”. Thanks, jackass. Searching for Firefly actor Adam Baldwin? Surely you meant “Alec Baldwin”, right? Searching for info about Katy Perry’s birth name, “Katheryn Hudson”? We’ll show you the results for “Kate Hudson” instead!

I don’t get the blind love everyone has for Google. They’ve repeatedly shown that they don’t trust their users worth a damn. As author Andrew Blum (“Showing results for Andrew Bloom”) said: “Their stance is the corporate equivalent of a 1950s-era gynecologist who believes women can’t comprehend what’s being done to their own bodies.” And goddamn is it annoying.

Continue reading “Tech Annoyances #624”

DOWNLOAD: Georgia Tech 2013 Football Schedule for Outlook!

The ACC released the official 2013 football schedule today, and I’ve created downloadable versions of Georgia Tech’s schedule that work with both Microsoft Outlook and Gmail\iTunes.

As you probably know, game times and TV coverage aren’t sometimes known until a couple of weeks before the game. Unlike my famous Steelers schedules – which include the kickoff time and the TV network – this schedule has the games starting at 8AM and lists the location of the game instead of the network (“Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA”, instead of “ESPN2″). A reminder is scheduled for 13:00 (1:00PM ET) the day before each game.

The download is available two formats: the traditional CSV format (used by Microsoft Outlook and Yahoo! Calendar) and the iCalendar format (used by Google Calendar and iTunes\iPhone). The CSV version of the schedule is compatible with Microsoft Outlook 98 or later. It might also work with any calendar app that can import calendar events from CSV files; it has only been tested with Outlook 2010, however. The iCal version of the schedule has not been tested at all. I used this handy online tool to convert the CSV to iCal format. If you experience any problems with it, please take it up with the converter’s author and not me!

In a change for 2013, I have decided to put the CSV and iCal files into the same download package. Be sure to import the right one after downloading!

Georgia Tech 2013 Football Schedule

*     *     *

Outlook users may follow these simple instructions to import the schedule. Make sure to read the all the directions below before you begin, as there are some options you may wish to change before importing the calendar:

  1. Download the file to your desktop and unzip.
  2. For OUTLOOK 2007 and earlier: select “File” > “Import and Export” > “Import from another program or file”, then click “Next”. For OUTLOOK 2010: Select “File” > “Open” > “Import” > “Import from another program or file”, then click “Next”.
  3. Choose “Comma Separated Values (Windows)”, then click “Next”.
  4. Use the “Browse” button to select the CSV file you unzipped in step 1.
  5. On the next screen make sure to select “Calendar” as the destination then click “Next” and “Finish”.

DISABLING REMINDERS: If you wish to disable the reminders, open the CSV file and change the value of “reminder on/off” (column G) to FALSE for each game before you import the Calendar into Outlook.

CHANGING “SHOW TIME AS”: By default, the entries will display their time as “Free” on your calendar. If you wish to change this to something else, change the value of each entry in Column V (“Show Time As”) from FREE to “1? (Tentative), “2? (Busy), “3? (Free) or “4? (Out of the Office) – without the quotes.

TROUBLESHOOTING: If you try to import the schedule but don’t see any of the games listed in your calendar, shut Outlook down (open Task Manager to make sure that OUTLOOK.EXE is not running) and re-open Outlook and try the import again. If you’re still having problems, leave a comment below and I’ll try to help!

VERSION INFORMATION: These files were tested on February 25, 2013 on a computer running Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and 32-bit Microsoft Office 2010. It was scanned with Microsoft Security Essentials and found to be virus-free. It’s the exact same file I’ve used for a decade now, so it should work for just about everyone.

The Great Chip Battle of 2013

As you’ve probably heard by now, potato chip giant Lay’s is having a contest to introduce a new flavor of potato chips. They’ve narrowed the field to three flavors and released limited quantities of the chips. We consumers are being asked to vote on which flavor we like best: Sriracha, Chicken & Waffles or Cheesy Garlic Bread. I went to several stores over the past couple of weeks and finally tracked them down this past Thursday at my local CVS:


Which chip will reign supreme… at least in my book? Read on, folks, for the Great Chip Battle of 2013!

Chairman Kaga

“Allez cuisine!”


SMELL: Like potato chips, with a faint whiff of Sriracha-like vinegar.

APPEARANCE: Mostly golden brown, with a few chips coated in a faint pink dust. They’re not nearly as red as Lay’s “Flamin’ Hot” chips, but that’s not a bad thing if you don’t want to stain your fingers!

TASTE: The chips do taste faintly of Sriracha, although it’s kind of subtle. Like the buzz from cheap macrobrew, the heat doesn’t come on until you’ve had a few. In my book, the Sriracha flavor isn’t nearly strong enough, and is crippled by an annoyingly sweet flavor. The ingredients list says that sugar is part of the “Sriracha seasoning”, and I’ll be damned if I can taste that much sugar in genuine Huy Fong Sriracha!. Of course, I may be biased here. I put Sriracha on damn near anything humans can consume: pizza, soup, hot dogs, eggs, tacos, chili, burgers, pork rinds, fried okra, blackeyed peas, mac and cheese… almost everything. If it’s not cake, cookies or ice cream, I’m probably putting Sriracha on it. And these chips, while good, were a bit of a let down. I need to dip them in actual Sriracha sauce to get the flavor I need want, and that just defeats the purpose of having a Sriracha chip.


SMELL: After an initial explosion of some kind of “maple syrup-like” aroma, the chips began smelling like old potatoes. There was a strange musty, dirt-like smell that was just kind of… odd.

APPEARANCE: Mostly golden brown, with a few specks of spice here and there.

TASTE: Totally bizarre. At first I mostly tasted some kind of artificial syrup flavor. I hate to sound like a food snob here, but I only eat real maple syrup, and preferably Grade B syrup at that. But as I continued through the bag, I noticed another taste… was that.. sage? I never really tasted anything that reminded me of chicken, which is odd, given that Nabisco conquered that problem with Chicken in a Biskit crackers all the way back in 1964. So it seems as if the chips have the taste of the seasoning that comes on fried chicken, but not the chicken itself. And as I went through the bag I’d get the occasional burst of flavor the reminded me exactly of a breakfast cereal my sister and I ate as kids. But for the life of me, I can’t place it. Golden Grahams? Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Did they make French Toast Crunch back in 1983? All in all, the chips aren’t unpleasant, and I can see where they were really aiming for the “chicken and waffles” flavor. I’m just not sure they hit the mark.


SMELL: A vague, artificial “cheese and garlic” aroma. It’s not unpleasant, but it smells like “letdown”.

APPEARANCE: Golden brown, with a golden powder on them and a few specks of spice.

TASTE: Wow! I can’t taste any “bread” flavor, but the cheesy garlic taste is really there! Flavors of Parmesan cheese dominate, but the amazing thing is that it somehow has that slightly nutty taste that Parmesan gets after it’s toasted. And then the cheese mellows out to a kind of bulky, mellow, mozzarella kind of taste. It lingers in your mouth like an “Italian style” macaroni and cheese dish with lots of garlic and mozzarella.

Find out which flavor wins… after the jump!

Continue reading “The Great Chip Battle of 2013”

Win7: Dragging a “Normal” Internet Shortcut

I have been a hardcore Firefox user since at least 2005. But I still use Internet Explorer from time to time. For example, because my netbook has limited CPU and RAM, I usually close Firefox (and its 6-15 open tabs) when I’m not using it. If I want a web browser to check one thing really quickly, I’ll typically just use Internet Explorer rather than wait for Firefox to open and load all those tabs.

Because I mostly use Firefox, if I happen to be using IE for whatever reason and see something I want to bookmark, I’ll usually just drag the favicon from the IE address bar to the desktop. This has traditionally created a standard desktop shortcut that’ll open in the user’s default browser. I can click on the shortcut later to open the link in Firefox, or drag the shortcut to my Dropbox folder so I can use it on my desktop machine or Android phone.

Web Shortcut

But then Microsoft went and screwed this up. In Windows 7, Microsoft changed this behavior so that if you drag an icon from the IE address bar to the desktop you create a “pinned shortcut” instead, one that only opens in IE… which is a nifty feature if you’re an IE user. But what if you want to create a good, old-fashioned shortcut that opens in the default browser?

You have two options.

The first is to hold down the SHIFT key as you drag and drop. This will create a “normal” shortcut that will open in Firefox, Chrome or whatever your default browser is.

The second is to drag and drop as usual, but then change the shortcut’s extension from .website to .url. Unfortunately, there’s no way (that I can see) to do this from the Windows UI. So you’ll have to break out the command-line and type something like

ren *.website *.url

at the desktop (or wherever you saved the .website shortcut). You can also, of course, do this with any existing pinned shortcuts, too.

Thanks, EVR!

East Village Radio is an online radio station based out of New York City’s East Village. The station began broadcasting on 88.1 FM in 2003, but after an article about the station appeared in the New York Times, the FCC noticed that they had no broadcasting license (oops!). And so EVR was forced to go Internet-only.

It’s a “community-oriented” station, meaning that it has a wide variety of programming, much like a college station. I’d listen to the station more, but it seems like every time I think “hey, what’s on EVR?” it’s a Norwegian Death Metal show or six hours of Trinidadian rap. Having said that, I do make an effort to check out my favorite show, “The Rest Is Noise” with Delpine Blue, which airs every Wednesday at noon ET.

I was excited to hear that former Joy Division\New Order bassist Peter Hook would be on the January 30th show to promote his new book: Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. I even added the show to my Outlook calendar so I wouldn’t forget!

So the time came, and Hook was indeed on the show. The interview was interesting, and the music really great. As the interview was ending, Blue mentioned a contest in which all one needed to do to win an autographed copy of the book was to leave a comment on the EVR site. I never win ANYTHING in contests, but went ahead and left a comment anyway.

Imagine my surprise when, one week later, I received this in my email:

Peter Hook email

Woo-Hoo! Like I said, I never win ANYTHING in online contests, despite having entered hundreds of them since joining the Internet in 1996.

And, this past Tuesday, the book arrived!


The autograph:

click to embiggen

So… a BIG THANKS to the staff at EVR for picking me to win the book! If you’re looking for cool new tunes, be sure to check out East Village Radio!

My Last Day in Sydney

In this post, I talked about my last night in Sydney on a trip I took there in 1989. As I wrote the piece, I just kept writing and writing and writing, going past the last night of my trip and well into the next day. So I decided to break the article in two. Enjoy!

I woke up the next morning some time just after 9:00 am, nary the worse for wear, despite my truly heroic intake of alcohol the night before and the scant four and a half hours of sleep I’d gotten (oh, to be 17 again!). I quickly showered and dressed, and mom told me to go down to the hotel restaurant and get something to eat while she got ready.

At the time, the hotel was known as the Sheraton Wentworth (it’s now the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth). I seem to recall some sort of breakfast buffet thing going on at the edge of the main lobby. It was jam-packed with folks, and while I didn’t feel hungover or anything, it all just seemed like a bit too much at the moment. I turned around to look for some stairs to the street and spied another restaurant in the hotel. Although empty of customers, there were wait staff milling about inside.

I walked over and asked someone if they were open. The man looked at me as if he was going to say no, but instead kind of shrugged his shoulders and told me to come on in. I was seated at a table and presented a menu, I chose the “Aussie Burger” because it had a fried egg on it… and eggs are for breakfast, right?

As I sat waiting for my food in this large, empty restaurant, I suddenly became aware of the elevator music coming through the speakers in the ceiling. If you’re under the age of 35 you might not have any idea of what “elevator music” was. Of course, today Muzak offers a wide variety of music to fit almost any location you can think of, from 80s to country to hip-hop to dance music. But back in the 70s and 80s, “Muzak” exclusively meant orchestras or jazz bands doing covers of contemporary hits. And for some damn reason, it always seemed like they had a flute doing the melody line. Remember the “jazz flute” scene from Anchorman?

Yeah, imagine that… only they’re playing “Call Me Maybe” or “We Are Young”… and they’re serious about it.

So a few minutes passed, and the waiter brought my burger. I picked off the slice of pickled beet (I don’t get it, either) and added the required mustard. I assembled the burger, and picked it up and brought it to my mouth. But just as I went to take a bite… I noticed the music that was playing… it was so familiar… what WAS that song? And then it hit me: it was the elevator music version of “Welcome to the Jungle”:

I damn near peed him pants from laughing so hard. Unless they too heard the song, the wait staff were no doubt wondering why the “crazy Seppo” was laughing so hard by himself.

Anyway, I ate the burger, and it was good. I went back upstairs, where mom was almost ready to leave. I quickly packed my bag and organized a couple of bags of souvenirs while mom packed her own things. A little while later, around 11:00 am I’d guess, we were packed and ready.

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I’m Stupid (“Parks and Rec” Edition)

I lived in Atlanta from the day I was born until I was 31 years old. I am also a huge fan of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, the comedy with Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman and Rob Lowe. In fact, if Offerman’s “Ron Swanson” character was a real person, in my book he’d be the greatest living American by a long shot.

Anyway, I watched last week’s episode, which opened with a shot of “JJ’s Diner”. It wasn’t until I went online after watching the episode that I found out that not only was the exterior shot filmed in Atlanta, it was filmed at a diner on Cheshire Bridge Road I’ve been in 100 times:

Parks and Rec
Click to embiggen

In fact, I even reviewed the diner on my “old” site (read it here). Seriously, folks… I’ve been in that place – when it was the Dunk N’ Dine – at least 50 times, if not more. I’ve got several stories from that place I bore my friends with, like the time I sat next to a table of three older white men in suits… and one 6′ 5″, 275lb. black “woman” in a dress. Or the time my friend Jefferson and I almost had to swap tables because we were laughing so hard at the bitchy drag queens in the corner* that we couldn’t eat. What’s more, as you can see from the picture, I also got a tattoo at a shop next door, bought “smoking accessories” several times at the shop next to that, and gawked at the “toys” at the adult store next to that.

What AWESOME observational skills I have! I’m slipping, folks. I watched a recent episode of Death in Paradise, a UK crime drama filmed in Guadeloupe. The main character is an English cop who is kind of a lesser Sherlock Holmes. He also can’t stand the tropical weather and is anal-retentive to the point of offensiveness. Anyway, the cop was able to figure out who the bad guy was (in this case, the bad girl) because she kept two mobile phones, identical except that one was black and the other white. Aaaaannnnnnddd I totally missed that, too.

* – I feel I should mention that we were laughing at the drag queens because they were being funny, not because they were drag queens. They were arguing amongst themselves, doing some kind of drag queen version of “Yo’ Momma” jokes back and forth. It was really funny.

My Last Night in Sydney

So… back in 1989 I went to Australia. Although it was only 25 years ago, foreign travel was way more exotic then than it is now, especially to somewhere like Australia. Hell, at the time just getting a passport was a big deal. There wasn’t an Internet you could easily download the necessary forms from, there were no digital cameras so you had to go to a photographer or a camera store to get the passport photos made, and there were only like, two places in all of Atlanta where you could process a passport: the federal courthouse downtown and the Decatur post office.

So yeah, it was a big deal. And the best part of my trip was that it was free. My father was a wholesale grocer, and every year one of his vendors offered free trips if you moved enough of their product. And the trips were tiered, too. I don’t know the exact numbers, but let’s say that if you sold 100 cases of their products in a calendar year you got a free 5-day Caribbean cruise. If you sold 300 cases you got a free 7-day trip to Paris. But if you sold 600 cases, you got the top-tier prize, which was something big… like 14 days in Australia. The funny thing was, the year before my dad actually sold enough so that four people could go on the trip… which would have been perfect for my four-member nuclear family. But for some reason I was worried about school and didn’t want to take two weeks off. Hard to believe, I know!

Dad didn’t sell as much product in 1988, so that year, when the vendor offered a similar trip to Australia, only two people could go. And this time I really wanted to go. And since I was a senior in high school who only had two classes that really mattered, missing class wouldn’t be too much of a problem this time around. So it was decided that my mom and I would go.

I won’t go into detail about most of the trip. After all, the name of this article is “My Last Night in Sydney”, right? It suffices to say that I had a lot of fun: snorkeling and taking a glass bottom boat on the Great Barrier Reef, enjoying a rowdy dinner at a hotel deep in the “bush”, visiting a koala preserve, another dinner at a sheep shearing ranch, looking for pretty girls with hot accents… you know, all the usual stuff a 17 year-old kid would get into. But here’s the thing: it was a group trip. We were traveling with 70 or so other wholesalers who’d also sold enough merchandise to make the trip. I’m not normally a fan of escorted trips, but this one was pretty awesome: we stayed at some of the fanciest hotels I’ve ever been in, hardly touched our suitcases the entire trip, and had most everything lined up for us. Want to go to a koala preserve? No problem – just be in the hotel lobby at 11:00 am!

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Foods They Need to Bring Back

Hi Everyone! It’s that time again… time for me to sit in my office chair and assume my Andy Rooney persona. I’m only 41 years old, but I’m gonna be all like “why do kids today like Taylor Swift so much?” and “remember when Cops was the only reality show on TV?”. But in today’s episode I’m going to talk about… food. Read the following, but try to use Andy Rooney’s voice in your head when you do so:


Big John's Beans

I don’t much care for baked beans. It’s not that I don’t like the taste – they taste just fine. It’s just that I’ve had them a million times. Every cook-out you go to, every family get-together you’re forced to suffer through, every barbecue place – from Valdosta, Georgia, north to Richmond, Virginia and west to San Antonio – has baked beans. And yes, Big John’s beans were still baked beans… but with a delicious twist. You see the picture? Big John’s Beans actually came in two cans: one large can with the beans, and another, smaller can taped to the other which had the “fixin’s”. You opened both cans, dumped the beans into a pot, then added the fixin’s. You’d stir well and heat ’em through. They were so tasty, those beans. Gosh, I wish ConAgra hadn’t discontinued these a few years ago. Bush’s Grillin’ Beans aren’t nearly the same thing. Not at all. THERE, INTERNET.. I SAID IT! Thankfully, Big John’s has something of a cult following on the Internet, and there are tons of “copy cat” recipes out there (here’s one that looks pretty good).


Pop Tarts

Oh, I know what you’re thinking… “but they still make Cookies and Cream Pop Tarts! Isn’t that the same thing?” No, they’re not the same. Not at all. In fact, hell no. The Cookies and Cream Pop Tarts are a fine product, no doubt. But they taste like… well, whatever the hell “cookies and cream” flavor actually is. Chocolate Vanilla Pop Tarts were exactly what they said on the tin: chocolate pastry with vanilla filling inside. The pastry part, despite being chocolate, wasn’t all that sweet. It was more of a “cocoa flavor”, which was good, because the preternaturally sweet vanilla was all the sugar you needed. I used to keep a box of these bad boys on hand at all times – one two-pack of these and an ice cold Diet Coke were my go-to breakfast for years. So thanks a hell of a lot for ruining that, Kellogg’s!


Potato Pancakes

I think a lot about the duality of man. Light and Dark. Good and Evil. Pleasure and Pain. And I think it all started with IHOP. When I was a young man, I’d go to IHOP and every single time I’d struggle over whether to get chocolate chip pancakes or potato pancakes. Chocolate chip or potato? Chocolate chip or potato? Chocolate chip or potato? I’d deliberate over it as if the fate of the whole world depended on it. Remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy has to pick the right chalice? This was worse. Hell, I put more deliberation into one instance of chocolate chip vs. potato pancakes than I did in deciding what university I went to or the last car I bought. Chocolate chip had the sweet, but potato brought the savory. And potato pancakes came with an additional decision: apple sauce or sour cream on the side? Me, I was a traditionalist, going with sour cream. I had some vague notion of European sophistication in doing so, as if people in Austria were making the exact same choice at that exact same moment: “mit Sauerrahm, bitte“. There were a few times when I went down the apple sauce path, but always felt like an old geezer in doing so, like I should ask the waitress to turn the TV to Matlock and tell those damn teenagers at the other table to pipe down, ‘cos I didn’t storm the beach at Normandy so some punk-ass kids could shout over Andy Griffith. So I guess in a way I should be thankful that some damn bean counter at IHOP decided to get rid of the potato pancakes. It’s taken one of life’s most difficult decisions away from me. But dammit, I liked having to make that decision. And I liked having an old school dish like potato pancakes around, instead of the “Tuscan Chicken Griller” or “Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper & Cheese Griddle Melt” or whatever new slightly trendy crap IHOP serves these days. YOU BASTARDS!

The Berners Street Hoax

Samuel Beazley led an interesting life. Born in Westminster in 1786, he wrote his first play at age 12. He later served in the British Army during the Peninsular War, where he had two interesting adventures in particular. At one point, he was knocked unconscious during a skirmish and, thought to be dead, was prepared for burial, only to wake up at the last minute. He also played a role in the rescue of the Duchesse d’Angoulême, daughter of Louis XVI, from approaching French forces led by Napoleon.

Beazley returned to England after the war and wrote over 100 plays, mostly comedies. He also wrote two novels – The Roué (1828) and The Oxonians (1830) – and translated several Italian opera librettos into English. He also designed a spa, a town hall, a couple of hotels, the South-Eastern Railway Company’s London Bridge station and several other stations on their North Kent line. In Warwickshire, he also designed the hilariously named Studley Castle.

But Beazley was mostly known for being Britain’s first “theatre architect”. He designed St James’s Theatre, the Royalty Theatre and the City of London Theatre, led major renovations of the Adelphi Theatre and the Drury Lane Theatre, and designed two theatres each in Dublin, Belgium and India and one in Brazil. He even designed the Lyceum Theatre twice: his original 1816 building burnt down in 1830, so he designed its replacement, which still stands today:

Lycium Theatre

Yet, despite all his good works, Beazley is best remembered today… for a prank.

*     *     *

Beazley had a friend named Theodore Hook. Born in Charlotte Street, London on September 22, 1788, Hook was the son of James Hook, a composer of popular songs of the period. His elder brother, also named James Hook, became Dean of Worcester Cathedral.

Theodore Hook
Theodore Hook, prankster

Theodore was something of a musical prodigy: his father often took him to theatres to show him off to other performers, and at sixteen Hook debuted his first work, a comic opera called The Soldier’s Return. He wrote several more works, all of which were commercially popular. He seemed to have a bright future, and his music so charmed the Prince Regent – the future King George IV – that the prince named him accountant-general and treasurer of Mauritius, a gig that paid him a healthy £2,000 a year.

Unfortunately, £12,000 ended up missing from the island’s accounts, and Hook could provide no answer for the discrepancy. So he was arrested and returned to England. While awaiting trial, Hook made money by writing articles for newspapers and magazines. His writings were so popular that he was able to start a newspaper, John Bull, which was yet another success.

However, Hook never did address the missing £12,000. He was arrested again, and this time sent to a “sponging-house”, a kind of halfway house for debtors. Typically, one would be sent to a sponging-house as a last ditch warning to figure out a way to pay off debts. If unsuccessful, the debtor was usually sent to debtor’s prison. Hook was able to use his charm to get out of the house after a couple of years. But the debt hung over him the remainder of his life, and after he died on August 24, 1841 the government seized his estate to settle the debt.

Continue reading “The Berners Street Hoax”