Monday, December 19, 2011

Virgin Media Netgear VMDG280 Wireless Connection Problems

I was having very annoying wireless connection issues with Virgin's Netgear VMDG280. Most devices would be fine, but the odd one would connect and have wireless access for a few seconds, but then the wireless connection would die, though the device would still report that it was connected. Restarting everything/anything would just repeat the same. Last night I tried reducing the maximum connection speed of the router from 300Mbps to 54Mbps, which seemed to solve the issue completely. I've since put it up to 145Mbps which seems like a happy medium.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Time Lapse with ffmpeg

Because I do it too infrequently to remember, here's how to put together time lapse/stop motion/animation with ffmpeg.

Firstly renumber you images*. Make sure that this script won't overwrite anything.

x=1; for i in *.JPG; do counter=$(printf %04d $x); mv "$i" img"$counter".JPG; x=$(($x+1)); done

Then put the images together.

ffmpeg -ss 1 -t 70 -i music.mp3 -r 15 -i img%04d.JPG -b 15M -s 1440x1080 out.avi

The ffmpeg documentation mentions using the "image file demuxer" -f image2 before the input image file name template, but I haven't found that necessary.

Remember that ffmpeg options act on the next input or output, so for example you can set the frame rate of the animation by using -r x before the input image parameter or set the frame rate of the resultant video by using the same switch before the output filename.

In the above example we also add a sound track, starting 1 second into the track and cut after 70 seconds.

* You're images must be numbered sequentially starting at 1.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

eBay Dicks

hi there would you accept 260 cash? bearing in mind i can pay cash on collection you wouldnt have to pay ebay and paypal fees(ebay 10% final value fee, paypal 4% service charge). put that ontop of my offer comes to over £300 on ebay which obviously if you look at completed listing they dont get. let me know

- morne1514
> put that ontop of my offer comes to over £300

No it doesn't*, and I'm hoping to get £330 for it, but I'll keep your offer in mind, thanks.

- jamiekitson
hi there no problem, i cant do more then 270 am afraid, if you look online you will see they are new 330 nowadays. as for what they go for on here, i have added you some links to completed listings so you can see for yourself, most of them are brand new and minues the ebay and paypal fees they dont even clear 250 so the choice is yours, let me know otherwise going the other route and buying a samsung galaxy note

- morne1514
Mine comes with a cradle and receipt.

Please go away.

- jamiekitson
no need to be rude, i was offering you a valid offer which in theory should have been good for you and me. you send me links for the ones going for most they go on ebay, thats just retarded as the average NEW ones still sell for under 300 as i showed this to you, as for the amazon link lol even xxx online sells them for 340 new so please you are embarrassing yourself. sorry i ever contacted you i can assure you i wont again

- morne1514
He lied.
lolz i would have actually been the highest bidder if you didnt block me from bidding. gutted

- morne1514
Well thank god I did.

* Yes I did embarrass myself with that maths.

Friday, November 18, 2011

HTTP Headers to Disable Caching in Firefox

It took me ages to find this:
Cache-control: no-cache
Cache-control: no-store
Pragma: no-cache
Expires: 0
To alter headers in the IIS7 GUI go HTTP Response Headers. It won't allow you to add two headers of the same name so either add no-cache,no-store or you can set no-cache by expiring web content immediately in Set Common Headers at the top right and add Cache-control: no-store manually.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

VSTOR30.exe has changed since it was initially published

Note that the following error can be caused by a missing internet connection stopping installation files downloading necessary installation files:
Error: Setup has detected that the file 'C:\Users\...\AppData\Local\Temp\VSD5056.tmp\VSTOR30\VSTOR30.exe' has changed since it was initially published.
There are other posts mentioning installing VSTO 3.0 SP1. You might try installing this on the dev machine and republishing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Arch Linux on a Thinkpad X220

Crucial M4 SSD Thinkpad X220 7mm ModSome thoughts on Arch Linux on the X220:
  • Adding i915.i915_enable_rc6=1 to you kernel boot options can result in considerable cooling and power savings (and possible unwanted shutdowns?)
  • The screen brightness jumps to full after certain ACPI events, such as at startup and lid open. I haven't fully solved this but have added xbacklight -set 80 to my .xinitrc.
  • Occasionally when I connect to power, yacpi reports a maximum CPU frequency of 800MHz. I haven't been able to reliably recreate or investigate.
  • Volume/Mute buttons work with xbindkeys, though I haven't got the mic mute to work yet even with Corubba's udev keymap suggestion below. Also if the machine is muted at boot the mute toggle doesn't work. (Windows seems to exhibit similar behaviour.)
  • For right and middle click on the Touchpad install xf86-input-synaptics-clickpad. You can also configure XOrg for tapping the corners.
  • I haven't properly measured battery life, but it's estimated at around five hours with my standard 6 cell pack, which isn't bad, and is similar to the Windows estimate.
  • If your machine reboots after shutdown add rmmod ehci_hcd to rc.local.shutdown.
  • If your machine pauses at shutdown with e1000e 0000:00:19.0: eth0: Could not acquire PHY then add rmmod e1000e to rc.local.shutdown.
  • Power button to power off instructions here. Note that you have to hold the power button down for three seconds until the machine beeps. Note also that I couldn't get the "first solution" on that page to work, but the second does.
  • If udevd times out (after 30 seconds) at boot then try adding your wireless driver (eg rtl8192ce) to MODULES in rc.conf.
I've had a bit of an adventure with wireless, so I thought I'd give it its own section:
  • I made the mistake of not paying £3 to upgrade the wireless to Intel and got the RealTek 8188ce card by default. The kernel driver doesn't seems fine. that great, use the RealTek driver or better, the AUR package (currently neither is available for 3.1).
  • As I found out to my cost, the Thinkpad BIOS has a whitelist of wireless cards, and if yours doesn't match then your machine won't even boot, even if it is a genuine Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200. However there are plenty of modded BIOSes out there, although not necessarily quite up to date. Try googling your model number + "whitelist". I got my X220 BIOS here.
  • Oddly, after installing the 6200 my machine started suspending twice when I closed the lid, fixed by adding the following line to /etc/acpi/actions/
    if [[ `cat /proc/acpi/button/lid/LID/state | awk '{print $2}'` = "closed" ]]
  • Disappointingly the Intel card doesn't seem any better than the RealTek, not connecting as fast as the RealTek did with the Aur driver and it didn't cure my disconnection issues. They seem to have been cured by flashing our Virgin provided D-Link DIR-615 with dd-wrt.
See also my post on the X220 and booting GPT drives.

A note for Windows 7 - don't install the Intel HD graphics driver before Windows SP1 or you'll get a blue screen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mount/Read VMWare vmdk Disks

You can try the VMWare-Mount utility, but an easier way is to use VMWare Player to "map" the disk in the Utilities menu in Machine Settings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

UEFI Bootable Windows 7 USB Media

Problems with the Thinkpad X220 and GPT, UEFI, MBR and Legacy BIOS Booting

Crucial M4 SSD Thinkpad X220 7mm ModAfter several days banging my head against a brick wall and suffering the indifference of Lenovo/IBM tech support I have learnt a lot about UEFI, in regards to the X220 in particular.
  1. The X220 cannot/will not boot GPT disks using Legacy BIOS. I would call this a bug.
  2. The X220 will not boot /efi/*/*.efi unless "signed"(?) into BIOS, you have to copy it to /efi/boot/bootx64.efi. I guess this is a security feature, but I'm not sure how secure it is if you can bypass it so easily.
  3. Disabling the BIOS setting "USB UEFI BIOS Support" disables *all* USB booting, ie, both UEFI and legacy BIOS. If this isn't a bug then
    1. it at least needs relabelling,
    2. could be moved/linked to the boot menu and
    3. is redundant as you can disable USB booting using the Boot menu.
I should say that this was with BIOS version 1.22 (I think).

I recommend following these instructions to create a very useful and versatile boot disk for diagnosis.

If you want to use the X220 UEFI boot menu I recommend disabling booting from LAN as it adds a few seconds to the boot time. You have to disable it in several places in the BIOS to avoid the wait.

See also my more general post on Arch Linux on the X220.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Fix HTC HD2 Digitiser/Touchscreen

Make sure you try a soft-reset first by pushing the little red button on the back of the phone while it is on. After four months I just discovered that that fixed it. Luckily I hadn't ordered a new screen/digitiser on ebay.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Invalid MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1 key

I eventually tracked down the above error to the file ~/.Xauthority, which I removed, which solved the problem. Perhaps back it up first.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Recipes: Tagliatelle Carbonara

As pasta has just been revealed to be the world's favourite food, despite what Giles Coren might think, this recipe turns out to be topical. Carbonara is one of those dishes which is so simple that you can taste every ingredient, so every ingredient needs to be a good one. With carbonara I think this is especially true of the lardons and parmasan. I really like Ginger Pig lardons which you can get from Greensmith's, who also do very good parmasan and semolina flour and typo 00.

Pasta-fallTagliatelleI recommend using a pasta machine (left), but it's not essential (right). If you are going to roll it by hand you might want to add a little bit of water to the mixture to make it more malleable.

The following measurements are good for one very hungry person, or possibly two small people.

First make the pasta dough by mixing 50g of semolina flour, 50g of typo 00, 1 large egg and a pinch of salt. Use a knife to mix and cut until it resembles breadcrumbs, press together, tip the dough out and kneed it for a while. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Fry the lardons in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until they begin to crispen. Meanwhile roll out the pasta dough, fold over and roll again. Repeat this process several times until the dough is a nice and smooth consistency. Then roll thin and cut into tagliatelle. I wouldn't be tempted to leave the tagliatelle too long, the novelty quickly wears thin. If you are using a machine you can skip the final notch before putting the dough through the cutting rollers for slightly thicker pasta.

Tag CarbCook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water in a heavy pan for three minutes. Meanwhile beat together one egg, some cream and some finely grated paramasan and season. Once the pasta is done, turn off the heat and drain, returning the pasta to the pan. Pour over the lardons and their oil and mix. Add the egg, cream and parmasan mixture and stir thoroughly. the sauce should thicken with the residual heat of the pan but not cook, you don't want scrambled eggs. Serve with rocket.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Short Reviews: Casa Malevo, Argentinian Steak, Marble Arch

Casa MalevoGo for brunch, it's good value and they have proper morcilla. Dinner is fine, but not outstanding and quite expensive. Sides are mean, especially the chips. I could happily eat two of their little enamel bowl fulls, Mixed Grill @ Casa Malevowhich at this price is inexcusable, and perplexing when there is so much meat. The set mixed grill we had the other day was very generous, apart from the tiny cubes of very overdone fillet. The rump was nice but inconsistently done (we had four sets), but maybe that was intentional. Service, and the place itself, is very nice.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Short Reviews: Riverfront Restaurant @ BFI, Waterloo

Mussels & Fish Cakes @ BFI RiverfrontBefore I start complaining, let me just say that the food that we had at the BFI Riverfront was really very good. My smoked haddock fish cakes were nice and strong, complimented by a very good tartar sauce, something that I don't say very often, and the "oat crumb" coating was both crispy and tasty. The g/f's mussels came in a very nice tarragon sauce, which was a bit too thick and creamy for me, but not for her.

No, what I take issue with is the price. At first glance £9.50 - £11 for a main seems quite reasonable, especially for such a prime location, but who has just mussels for a main? You at least need some bread and butter (£2.50). Or just fish cakes and a dollop of boiled broccoli? You'd probably want some chips with that (£3.50). (I have to admit, the single serving of chips was pretty generous.)

Purely on presentation alone the fish cakes were missing something. That dollop of slightly overdone boiled broccoli didn't fill up much of the plate. Besides the cakes, broccoli and shot glass of tartar sauce, a lonely slice of lemon was doing its best to fill up the rest of the space.

Then there is the "discretionary" 12.5% service charge which is automatically added to you bill. Previously it's proved quite hard to not pay the full amount, and I was going to test it on this occasion, but our waitress managed to redeem her rude and brisk attitude at the last minute by giving us two cups with our single pot of tea :) But why oh why don't places like this just add service to the prices on the menu and have done with it?!

So we ended up spending £40 on two mains, one glass of wine and a cake and tea. Not so reasonable.

UPDATE: Apparently VAT is charged on the menu price, but not on added service, hence nowhere includes service on the menu price.

UPDATE: We went back during April 2012 and the food was still very good (we had rarebit, lamb burger and mussels in cider, which were all very good) and an accompaniment was included with each main, all priced around the £12 mark.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mongol Rally Non-Sponsorship

As you may or may not know, Kai and I are planning to do the Mongol Rally this July. It's a jaunt in the name of charity, but as it's something that I want to do I feel bad asking friends and family to sponsor me do it. So we've come up with something a mite more fun.*

Here's the deal: for every donation that you make you can enter one of our two sweepstakes in which you must guess how far we will travel or how long it will take us. The clock and odometer stop when we either reach the finish line in Ulaanbaatar or fail completely. Our readings are final. Please be as specific as possible, eg, include minutes/metres. Duplicate entries will be disregarded. The prize will be 10% of the value of donations up to a maximum of £50 for each of the two sweepstakes. We'll also see if we can find some exciting artefacts (or tacky souvenirs) to bring back for the winners. All donations will go to charity and the winnings will come out of our own pockets (hence the £50 limit). Clear? Good.

To give you a better chance at estimating: we will be starting at Goodwood, West Sussex at approximately 4pm on Saturday 23 July. We will be travelling in a car that is no older than 10 years and has an engine of less than 1.3 litres, something like a Nissan Micra or VW Polo, possibly a Toyota Rav4 or one of those little Suzukis (if you have a spare one of these or similar hanging around, let us know). There's just one Czech point (haha) which we leave (I think) on 25 July and then the route is up to us. We plan to go south of the Caspian and Black seas, ie, via Turkey and Iran. We also plan to stop off in Odessa.

Using straight lines this is 6,273 miles. Using Google directions it's 6,723 miles to Korday, Kazakhstan where it stops giving directions. When making our visa application we estimated that it would take us 5 weeks. Last year roughly 2/3 of cars made it to the finish line. Feel free to do more research on the Rally:

How to enter:

There is a Just Giving page for each of the two sweepstakes. Donate your money and leave an appropriate guess in your comment. I'm afraid we will not be able to correct mistakes, but hey, you can try again.

If you want to guess at the duration of our journey go to:

If you want to guess at the final distance of our journey go to:

We have yet to decide when we will stop accepting entries.

If you want to donate but not take part there are also two pages for straight donations:

Donate on either of those pages and you can request slogans to be written on our car, guess when/where Kai and I will have our first argument or who will kill who first and how.

Good luck!

* Fun is not guaranteed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

WSE306: The DIME record should have the following version: 1. Instead, the DIME record contained the following version: 7

Fixing the above error involved altering the Microsoft.Web.Services2 version in the configSections of the web.config file from to, matching the version named in the soapExtensionTypes section.

Linux Colour Management and Monitor Calibration (or Do You Really Want a High Gamut Monitor?)

I am writing this purely because a couple of the highest google hits for things like "linux colour management" and "linux monitor calibration" are worse than useless and useless respectively (imho). I won't name their URLs but their domain starts with linux and ends in .com.

Loading default colour profiles (.icc, .icm files) in Linux is a surprisingly simple matter, there's Argyll (see dispwin) and xcalib for the CLI lovers among you and things like gnome colour manager to make things even easier.

I actually found that Argyll and xcalib didn't work for my chosen screen, apparently because the nVidia driver does not properly support XRandR (yet). However the gnome colour manager *did* work, despite it apparently being just a front end for Argyll. Having said that it did apply the same profile to all my screens, so it wasn't perfect, but it was good enough for me, applying the chosen profile to all the important programmes such as eog, firefox and Gimp, the notable exception being flash, which of course is a big deal in a world of flash video and I have to admit to using picnic on flickr an awful lot.

Short Reviews: The Island Queen, Islington

Really lovely staff, a great selection of beers and large portions of good food at very reasonable prices. It's a shame it's so far off the beaten track, but it's worth the trek, highly recommended!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Simply hiring the best and the brightest may not make sense in all circumstances, nevertheless the alignment of our core “Competency Framework” with job descriptions, recruitment, appraisal and training and development program, enables a continuous check on the current availability of human asset capabilities.
One wonders under what circumstances not "simply hiring the best and brightest" would make sense. Maybe that's what Google meant.

UPDATE: A colleague thought of such a circumstance: nepotism.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Utilitarian Incompetence

I'm sure everyone has these sorts of horror stories regarding utility companies, especially when moving, but that doesn't make me feel better. What makes me feel better is ranting. What makes the below worse is the fact that all of them only have 0800, or more commonly, 0845 numbers and I do not have a land line.


I chose npower because uswitch said they'd be the cheapest for us. Perhaps that should have been a warning rather than a recommendation. Our first problem was that they could not accept either of our meter serial numbers, they were apparently wrong, even though I was looking straight at them. Ironically British Gas were very helpful, despite the fact that we were leaving them. (Note that British Gas have raised my ire in the past too.)

We then received a letter from npower saying that the gas had been cancelled and that they were sorry to see us go. I called them and was told it was probably due to the confusion over the meter numbers and not to worry, the gas was going ahead. I thought I better check the electric too while I was on the phone. Oh no, I was told, the electric has been cancelled, due to them not being able to find the address, and that they would have sent a letter out. There is some paradox in there somewhere.

Unfortunately by this time the tariff that I had requested was no longer available. Not to worry, I was assured that they would connect us on Standard and move us over to Sign Online 20 once we were connected. Having heard horror stories about npower's abilities to sign you up for the most expensive tariff I asked for this to be confirmed in writing. A few days later we received a standard letter thanking me for my call and hoping that I was happy. No mention of tariffs. So I called them again and explained that I wanted it in writing. A few days later we received a standard letter thanking me for my call and hoping that I was happy. I called them again and explained the situation. After a few minutes on hold the complaints department picked up, which was a surprise as I hadn't requested the complaints department, but what the hell. I explained the situation and we now have a letter confirming the complaint, but still nothing confirming the tariff switch.


A few days after I'd moved I printed out and filled in Barclays' change of address form, including the date on which I moved. They then sent a letter to my old address saying that my signature did not match the one they have on file. Yes, they posted a letter to the address which I had just told them that I had already moved out of. It was only by chance (see below) that I discovered that the change of address had not gone through.


I was very impressed with Virgin's service in moving my connection, we only had a matter of hours downtime. My first bill came and all seemed well. But then the second bill came. It should have been £25, but was £80. Eventually it transpired that they somehow had the wrong account number, despite the fact that they'd been charging the same account for the previous 12 months. They had then charged me extra for their inconvenience. I was assured I would have been sent a letter informing me of this. Happily it was rectified quite quickly and they refunded the extra charges made.

UPDATE: Virgin now seem to be doing a 30meg service for less than I am paying for the 20meg service! What's more, new customers are offered free installation, whereas I would have to pay £30 for the upgrade!


Why oh why do 0800 numbers not get included in my monthly minutes? If only I'd known about 0800 Buster a month ago.

British Gas

British Gas have managed to charge me twice for the same, final bill. Not a small amount either.

TV Licensing

When we moved in we found a lot of unopened mail from TV Licensing. We didn't have a TV so I rang them and spoke to a very helpful guy who promised that we wouldn't receive any more mail from them. He was wrong. Not only did we continue to receive their demands and threats, but they got worse. I really object to being spoken to as if my guilt is assumed until I prove my innocence. In fact they weren't even giving us that chance, many of the letters included a leaflet that "might be helpful to you in court." Having got a TV we bought a TV Licence and continue to receive demands to a slightly different address. I am not going to bother replying if they cannot be bothered to check their records, hopefully they will go to the expense of sending someone round.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Installing Windows 7 From a USB Key

Avoid all the stupidly complex instructions out there and download Microsoft's USB tool. Note that if you are trying to create 64bit install media on a 32bit machine you might need to run the 32bit bootsect.exe against your installation media.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flashing OCZ Vertex 2 Firmware in Linux

OCZ Vertex 2
  • You cannot flash the firmware through USB, the drive has to be connected to a SATA port.
  • I believe it is necessary to set the SATA mode to AHCI in your BIOS.
  • Unsurprisingly you cannot flash the firmware of a mounted drive, so you will probably need to boot from a live CD or USB drive. (If you try you do not get a helpful error message.)
  • The firmware update utility needs an internet connection to download the latest firmware, so keep that in mind when choosing/preparing your boot media.
  • The first big hurdle is to stop the drive from being "frozen". Apparently most computers set all SATA drives connected at boot to this state as a security measure. Run "hdparm -I" against your drive and have a look at the Security section, you need to get your drive into the "not frozen" state. There are at least two possible ways of doing this. If possible unplug your drive, while the computer is still running, and then plug it back in again. As long as the drive isn't mounted this shouldn't be harmful. Replacing a Dell M101z Hard DriveI found this crashed my Dell M101z which wasn't so surprising as the drive obviously isn't designed to be removed while the computer is running (it's underneath the keyboard). However, my old Dell M1330 was fine with hot-plugging the drive and this got it into the unfrozen state. The other way I've heard to unfreeze your drive is to suspend your machine. However this also crashed my M101z when booted from USB.
  • Download and run the firmware tool. There is a thread or directory that you can download from. These might become out of date, but I think that it should always download the most recent firmware regardless.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Recipes: Steak and Chips

GrrrYou may be thinking "What sort of idiot needs a recipe for steak and chips?" Well I may be that idiot, it's amazing, even to me, how long it has taken me to perfect it.

The Potatoes

Other people, so called "professionals", recommend "waxy" potatoes. To be honest I've never quite understood what that refers to, the insides? Shiny potatoes might look waxy, ie, shiny, but they don't feel waxy. Anyway, more specifically, pink skinned potatoes are recommended, such as the desiree. However I think the most important thing about the potato is not so much the type but the quality and freshness of it, make sure it is firm, and you can mix it up a bit. Baking potatoes are good because you can make very long chips and be economical with the cutting. New potatoes are very tasty and if you use small whole ones they look like mini baked potatoes, which is fun. I also love sweet potato chips and often do half sweet and half other.

Cutting The Chips

You can cut the chips as thin as you can, but I wouldn't make them overly thick. Don't use whole large new potatoes. Rinse the cut chips in cold water.

The Oil

I'm afraid I haven't experimented with oil, whatever I've used has been satisfactory, 100% sunflower, Flora blended, etc. You don't need a lot of oil, the pan should only be about a third to a half full to allow for space for the chips and bubbling. I reuse my oil, sieving it back into the container. Remember to let it cool though, I once forgot and the plastic bottle collapsed in front of my eyes.

Cooking The Chips

Home Cooked ChipsWhen I first started cooking my own chips I thought the idea was to get the oil as hot as possible and cook the chips as quickly as possible, but I was wrong. My professional chef brother explained to me that the way to do it was to double cook them, blanched in cooler oil first and then quick and hot afterwards. Larry and I tried double and even triple cooking chips several times but decided that it just wasn't worth the effort. There is a happy medium though, start the chips off fairly cool, don't worry too much about drying them before you put them into the oil and don't bother with a lid, then after about twenty minutes turn the heat up. Note that sweet potatoes don't need quite as long, so if you're doing both in the same pan put them in a little later. You also have to be careful not to get sweet potato chips too hot as the sugar can caramelise and eventually burn, turning everything black. This has only happened once to us.

UPDATE: We now have a deep fat fryer, which is very useful. Cook the chips at about 130C for 10 minutes, take them out, turn the heat right up and then finish the chips off for a few minutes until golden. Cooking this way makes it very easy to do batches, cook each batch cool first and then finish them off when you are ready.

The Meat

Three Steak DinnerWell matured rib eye is my personal favourite. The butcher I frequent is the Ginger Pig at Greensmith's on Lower Marsh. My favoured way of serving steak to a few people is to buy various cuts, cut them into small chunks once cooked and serve all together on a chopping board in the middle of the table (see below).

Cooking The Steak

Three Steaks ServedDon't start the steaks too early, you don't want to over cook them or have to let them go cold while you're waiting for your chips to cook. Remember that if needs be you can cook steaks in no time at all. On the other hand I have recently discovered that you can leave steaks to stand in a cool oven and if anything they improve. In this vein turn your oven on to about 120C and put your plates in to warm. Pepper the steaks (I recommend Fiddes Payne Rainbow peppercorns). Heat your frying pan as hot as possible (within reason) add some butter and then the steaks. Fry for a minute or two until brown and preferably slightly crispy on each side. If necessary wrap in foil and put in the oven.

Pepper Sauce

In the same pan brown a shallot or two, add a lot of pepper corns (Fiddes Payne again) and then some red wine. Once the alcohol has boiled off add some cream and warm through. Take the steaks out of the oven and stir the steak juice into the sauce.

Other Sauces

ServedVariations on blue cheese, mushrooms (Greensmith's do nice jars of dried wild or woodland variates) and spinach go down well, and Antony Worrall Thompson does a good recipe of baby beetroot in balsamic vinegar and horseradish cream thing.

UPDATE: Famous last words.