listening to:

Tuesday, October 31

On scams

Prize for pointing out the bleeding obvious, as CNN reports the FTC exposes top 10 Web scams:

"Not everything you see on the Net is as it appears"

More interesting CNN stuff: Tools of the Trade for cold war spies...

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Scary Dubya

Last Friday's Independent points out exactly why Dubya as President would be extremely scary: (extract)

"It's also important to keep a strong ties in the Middle East with credible ties because of the energy crisis we're now in. After all, all the energy is produced from – the Middle East. And so I – I appreciate what the administration is doing. I – I hope to get a sense of, should I be fortunate enough to be the president, how my administration will react to the Middle East."

It doesn't help that Bush regularly makes car wrecks of the English language, as his own father and Reagan did before him. It doesn't help, either, that he has next to no experience of the world outside the United States. He has been abroad just three times in his life.

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Happy (belated) Birthday, Katy!

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Bloody Hell that was hard... Just finished writing the RAG music quiz for college, with "this year", 90s, 80s, 70s-60s and Soundtracks rounds. Fifteen songs for each round... Thank God for Napster, that's all I can say... I'll post the questions up later... maybe after the quiz would be a good idea...

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Monday, October 30

Hmmm... Very weird things are happening. Must try to work out what's going on.

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According to the nice blinky icon on my taskbar, someone seems to be having fun pulling out network cables over in our college hub cupboard. At least, that's the explanation as to why every thirty seconds[1] it keeps flashing "network cable unplugged! run for your lives! actually be forced to do work!"[2]. I suspect this is a conspiracy. [1] Actually, more of "about five times a day" and, recently "for up to half an hour at a time" [2] Not really. More of "Network cable unplugged"

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Have been busy building this. Cheers for the hosting, Chris!

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Sunday, October 29

So they showed Dangerous Liaisons a few days back in college. Of course, the whole thing was updated recently into teen flick Cruel Intentions, but which version do you prefer?

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Saturday, October 28

Not enough bandwidth? ADSL buggered up by your friendly local loop provider? Contention ratio irritating you? Why not try buying a satellite? With nice big maps, too.

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Friday, October 27

Nasa's big plans for Mars don't involve carting two metre high bags of water with arms and legs to the red planet for at least ten years...

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The below post proves that you can still write somewhat coherently when drunk...

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So I got back tonight (Thursday night / Friday morning) slightly sloshed having gone to a Cambridge Rag formal hall (lots of wine, pennying and gossiping) having not been really drunk in ages and had one of those conversations with Meg over ICQ -- we'd both just got in from being out... Bluelines Tom proposed a thought experiment for Webloggers, basically, if you woke up an amnesiac and the only thing you remembered was your URL, how much of your life and personality could you reconstruct? Things Meg and I worked out: 1. Where do you stand on the nature / nurture debate? We both concluded that social behaviour is more or less a construction, that it's nature that shapes it. You are who you are because you grew up the way you did. More or less. 2. If you write interior monologue in your blog, as in you don't really write for an audience, and that monologue is non-specific, then you're more or less shafted unless you want to do some heavy inference on what you've written. 3. Your blog may well be defining you as much as your definition defines it. Whether your blog is prescriptivist or descriptivist. We are all works in progress, continually changing. Blogs always change. We always change. Which kind of explains why the weblogging community goes through schizophrenic design shifts every so often. 4. We are different from what we were a day, week, month, year, decade ago, we are continually changing (see above). So does it matter if you end up the same? Even if you do change, do you end up the same, you still may have the same fundamental core likes/dislikes that drive your personality, or how much of that is down to conditioning? 5. What if you're constructed out of hundreds of thousands of tiny units (Susan Blackmore would have a field day here with memeplexes, the picture of her shows her with rather red hair), and we've already assumed that each one of those tiny units, e.g. "I like vanilla ice cream" is interchangeable with any other tiny unit "I like chocolate icecream", that they can be supplanted, replaced, deleted, enhanced. It doesn't matter if you lose some, gain some. You're still you. But there's no identifiable core. It's like there's some kind of self-emergent "you", like a flock of birds, where only a few simple rules produce complex behaviour or swarm intelligence. 6. At this point, I realised I was still a little sloshed, so that explained the above reasoning and conversation. However, we did for some reason go on to bearded-bee-men, thanks to our swarm analogy, and came to the logical conclusion that the only reason why bearded-bee-men (or women) exist is because they are amnesiac webloggers who are trying to regain their identity. More or less. So that's my pissed, deep, philosophical meanderings done for the term, then. Apart from a lengthy rant with Lydia about how best to go about ruling the world.

- posted at 1:44:31 AM :: feedback

This just takes the piss. So I look up the number one for my brother, and what comes up? Bloody Fame, by Irene Cara. And anyone who knows him knows that it's not just fitting, it's just damn scary. I say this because at the moment it looks like: a) people will probably remember his name if he keeps on going as he is now, b) he'll probably fly high (no doubt to Mars), c) I'm not saying anything, but "people will see me and die" would probably be him, on Mars, watching everyone come up against the wall when the revolution comes, and then by some bizarre coincidence of events suddenly finding himself in charge of the damn place d) "I'm gonna make it to heaven" (or maybe the first offworld colony) e) "Light up the sky like a flame" (well how else do you get to Mars?) I rest my case.

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Am catching up, slowly, on memes: the song that was number one on the day I was born was When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman - Dr Hook. I am beginning to think that this is all a joke or, even, number one songs on your birthday are decided using the same method as horoscopes. Either that, or I'm reading far too much into this one. People who know me, on the other hand, will go read the lyrics and laugh their goddamn ass off...

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Thursday, October 26

Swedes get to see some Bluetooth action.

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Apple Day 2000. Honestly.

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Robbie Williams cleared of dropping his trousers on Top of the Pops despite twelve complaints. "His performance was comic; the figure he cut while trying to dance with his jeans around his ankles was hardly erotic," the BBC said. "The performance had been more farcical than real," decided the BSC.

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Dear God, please No. If not for us, then for the children...

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Aside from having a silly design, the 1999 BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year the 2000 results go online today. And yes, it does have a silly design. Silly green blobs with no indication whatsoever that they're buttons...

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The BBC News story ministering to the lame, about the Ministry of Sound pulling an all-nighter at the Dome has to have produced some of the most sarcastic picture captions in the history of News Online...

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Wednesday, October 25

I'm sure one of the UKBloggers was talking about Josie and the Pussycats sometime...

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Light relief: The Complete Bushisms - Updated daily. by Jacob Weisberg

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Weary blog-overload nicely countered by Tech Support? (random weblogs.com surfing), which has what you might call "refreshing contemporary commentary", and saves me reading Salon all the time...

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Question sparked off last night when we noticed an article in the paper about Gerry Adams meeting the Dalai Lama: how do the police know whether a word is a codeword when receiving a bomb warning? Do the bombers call up before hand and say "Just for your information, these are the codes we're using this year... what, I need a code to tell you? I don't have any. That's why I'm ringing up. Yes, I'll hold. [muzak] Hello? Yes, I'd like to inform you about our codewords for the Autumn 2000 season. Yes. No, I don't have a reference number. No. Ah, sod it." I'm sure that doesn't happen...

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Proving, eventually, that common sense does seem to make a return, BBC News reports that certain anti-paedophile protestors whom we were reading about over the summer have appeared in court. In case anyone forgot: "The first night of protests at Paulsgrove, Portsmouth, in August turned violent when around 200 people descended on the home of an alleged sex offender. "A car was overturned and set alight and a council building was attacked. "Dozens of riot police were eventually drafted in to deal with the trouble."

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So we sat next to a couple of guys the other night at hall who didn't talk about anything other than rowing. Blades this. Race that. Blah blah blah. We didn't think it was possible to talk about rowing for a full fifty minutes without mentioning anything else at all. Aside from that, we really thought they needed to get a life and realise that there were things in the world apart from, say, a big hunk of wood, eight blokes, one girl and quite a lot of water. This, we thought, was excellent potential for a new game where you scored points for managing to divert the current conversation towards rowing. Example: "So, we were using those microscopes that we used in anatomy ages ago, you know, the ones that're really hard to use?" "You'd have to be really stupid to use microscopes in a boat..." That would score no points, on account of being a rather tenuous link of the crap variety. On the other hand: "Nah, I can't go out Wednesday night" "Why?" "Outing on Thursday morning" Would score points, but would probably get voted down on the basis that it was a completely boring link.

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I have been told that I really need to see Memento on the grounds that it's really good. The Indy seems to agree: "There's no question that Memento is a tour de force and, as I intend to recommend it anyway, I may as well imitate its reverse structure and recommend it now."

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Tuesday, October 24

When are people going to get their converging asses together? Enough already with having to carry three separate bits of kit (minidisc, palm and mobile). I want my damn quartz communicator (picture here), and I want it now.

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Monday, October 23

Add to the list of why some portals are overrated: MAIN PORTALS. Their caps, not mine. Ever.

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quickies Iain's diary is interesting. Or at least it satisfies the voyeuristic streak in me. Nice bargain there, since it probably satisfies his exhibitionist streak... Via said Iain's diary: skim reading why democracy is wrong, and will probably agree due to twenty-year old ideologies that will quickly disappear once proper adult cynicism and apathy seeps in. We'll see. randomness Bizarre quote of the day: "But why would you want to use a sieve as a contraceptive?" Yeah, I thought so too. time Rather worryingly, this is the start of the third week of term. Because of the wonderful way that Cambridge works, we're over a quarter of the way done already for a third of this year. Cue a lot of people wandering around, especially third years, wondering exactly how this is all going to end. Hopefully (like in the movies), it'll all turn out nice, and everyone gets their guy/girl and we all punt magnificently down the Cam after we graduate. Or not. Best not to think about it, really. working I tried to work in my room today, and got some done. It was conflict of laws, of which we've been handed a reading list almost as long as the combined list of Tory infidelities. Thankfully, the list comes with the proviso "There is a lot in this supervision, please do much as you possibly can, you made need to come back to this subject in more detail..." I will be. I don't like working in the college library. It's weird. I just don't like it: far too boring, or I'd just get distracted, wander off and talk to people (who no doubt would prefer to be working, or at least are attempting to work and succeeding slightly more than I am). Instead, I think I'll be working in Starbucks. Yeah, capitalist, but what they hey. If I find that I need an espresso in each of my lectures in order to stay asleep (far more expensive than simply going to bed early), then I might as well get coffee as well as sit on a nice comfortable sofa. So I might try working in Starbucks. There's some nice tables and chairs there... God I'd feel like such a... dunno... GenXer? feeling slightly bland There was an article in The Times way back when (7th August 2000), proclaiming the identification of "Generation Bland", which was mildly humorous. Not least because when I read the article out to one of my friends, she started exclaiming that if there was a blandness scale, its most-bland extremity would probably be calibrated to yours truly. Technically, I should have been offended, but I had to pretty much agree with her. "You could call them the Generation Bland. They don't do colour in dress, interior decoration or character, they do Gap khakis and whatever non-hue is designated the new black." You got me. I shop at GAP. It's effort-free clothing. "They also do denial. In fact, they seem to do something more extreme than denial, a kind of negation bred in the bone. They pose as if they feel those missing qualities - interest or curiosity or sensitivity, say - but they can't act as if they are inspired by them." Denial. Yup. Check. "They're eager to applaud anyone who goes on TV to talk about being a cokehead and almost as quick to protect the rights of paedophiles. They're relieved that a European court has recently ruled that gay men have a right to enjoy orgies in private but concerned that a London motorist has discovered a loophole in Euro-law making it illegal for councils to double-up unpaid parking fines." Shit. Agreed again. Not looking good. The article went on to name and shame bland celebrities, pretty much anyone who seems to be middle-of-the-road popular. Of most interest, though was the anatomy of a bland. It's at this point that the article became a points scoring exercise for me as I ticked off one by one over the phone to my friend (depressingly, and I think I gained extra points for this, I was lying on my bed at home using my mobile's handsfree kit. In my defence, I'd like to say I was using up my free airtime). Apparently, a Bland Young Thing will only have a job that didn't exist fifty years ago. Cambridge Graduate: New media or Management Consultancy. No problem. Score five points, the fact that I spent six weeks in "any other job will do as long as they give you a mobile and access to a gym at lunchtime" probably went in my favour at work... Bland Uniform: Dark blue shirt. Yep. Pager strapped to waist? Nah. Mobile. Gap Kahkis? Already got them. "Very important to carry a cycle courier bag to hold your bottle of mineral water, Psion organiser and Time Out guide to having a Bland night out." Whilst in London (and in Cambridge), cycle courier bag, Gap sling-pack design, carries Palm organiser and bottle of mineral water. Don't need to carry Time Out or listings magazine, as it's in the damn Palm already (obviously not trying hard enough). Furniture from Ikea. Cool cutlery and side-to-side doesn't-fall-over light from Habitat. Feel like I should watch This Life, only because everyone else watched it and told me to, because they expected me to be a London lawyer and thus own a nice house and have an incredibly interesting life. Friends? Don't watch it anymore. Boring. MTV on Saturday mornings. Late night BBC2 and MTV. The Paramount Comedy Channel. ChecK: Alex Garland's The Beach (didn't see the film on purpose), Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Bridget Jones's Diary (sequel was crap), Memoirs of a Geisha... Any novel written by Nick Hornby (in my case About a Boy and High Fidelity, in order. I didn't enjoy the film. All the Harry Potter books. Blandmobile? I so want a metalic blue new VW Beetle... "A flick through their CD tree would include Ronan Keating, the Corrs, Louise, All Saints, Alanis Morrissette's Jagged Little Pill, the Lighthouse Family, Ocean Colour Scene, Celine Dion and Robbie Williams - not forgetting a free dance CD from the front of Ministry magazines." Ronan Keating? (Notting Hill soundtrack). The Corrs? (MTV Unplugged, all the other albums on MP3). All Saints? MP3d. Alanis Morrissette's Jagged Little Pill was stolen from me a long time ago. Celine Dion? Embarrassingly, yes (I shall go away and shoot myself right now). Free dance CD from the front of Ministry magazine? No thanks, I own three Trance double-CD compilations. Hanging out at All Bar One? Did it all the time in london. Slug and Lettuce? Yep. Whetherspoons? Yep. VokdaRedBull? All the time. Starbucks? No, not a tall skinny latte to go, I like my mochas thank you very much. "When they're not sweating at the gym, bungee-jumping, inline-blading or reminiscing about early Eighties children's TV, they continue their search for an ever-smaller mobile phone in between going to the Tate Modern and organising their pensions." Does rowing in lieu of the gym count? I suppose so. I don't inline-blade. I do reminisce about early Eighties children's TV (but everyone does. Especially the Mysterious Cities of Gold). I so went to Tate Modern when I was working in London... ever smaller mobile phone? Me, want an even smaller electronic gadget? Obviously. Thank God it wasn't a Cosmo quiz. I'd have had to rewrite it... One thing for sure: I'm left with a bizarre feeling which seems to be a cross between faint smugness (cool, I got a high score), along with a faint sense of complete and utter failure along with inadequacy. And the feeling that I've been had by a global capitalistic conspiracy.

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Only Generation X would have its own Coalition to act as a support group...

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Requiem for a Dream, by hi, Res! London is one of the best film promo sites I've seen in a long time...

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Sunday, October 22

Okay everyone, hold it up. I know we're a bit late with the flying cars and all, but hey, at least we might be getting flying scooters. Belatedly via slashdot and The Sunday Times. We have a rowing crew! Officially, we're "Drugs" out of the three novice crews of "Sex", "Drugs" and "Rock'n'Roll"... outings are 7:15am on Tuesday and Thursday. I might take some pictures one morning, just to prove how damn dark it is at quarter to seven.

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You know when you're out and you hear people say stuff, and it's so funny? Check this: someone writes it all down.

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Mmmm.... Lunch

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Note to self: if you can see this you should be working.

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Damn. Archive not working. Am trying to fix it.

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The room I'm in currently has: 1 Celeron 400Mhz computer with 192MB RAM 1 Creative Labs 4Point Surround Sound system 1 SoundBlaster Live! Platinum, with groovy optical outputs 1 Hideously long MIDI cable, leading sometimes to 1 Borrowed Roland MIDI keyboard 1 Creative Webcam Go USB 1 Canon CanoScan FB630U scanner 1 Palmpilot cradle with Palm IIIe 1 Epson Stylus Color 600 printer 1 Internal Zip Drive 1 Plextor Plexwriter external SCSI 8x CD writer 1 Sony SDM-N50 groovy monitor 1 Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 1 Sony portable minidisc player / recorder 1 'Cello 1 Music stand 2 Large photographs (Matriculation and May Ball) 1 Internal 10GB drive with Windows 2000 and "stuff" 1 Internal 40GB drive with Windows 2000 (installed solely for playing Deus Ex) and approximately 2,300 MP3s. 1 Mobile Phone 1 Fridge 1 Wooden cat 2 Bookcases 4 Harry Potter Books 8 Law textbooks 1 Desk microphone 3 Mugs, all in varying caked-with-tea-ness 3 Posters (Kandinsky, Lazzerini and random bloke who drew a boat) 1 Picture of a very cool yellow dog 1 Nice cushion Many CDs Many blue things. I love my rooms this year...

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Found whilst egotistically checking referrers: C r a c k e d ! is nice, and has a cool sense of humour to boot: "Website designed with IE 5 and all graphics created in Paint. Yes, Paint." Well, it's a sense of humour that appeals to me... "Should never sniff around old boyfriends, it just ends up stinking really bad. I found my old date on IM..." I've never gone out with anyone who's got the net. At least, not as much as I have. I think it'd be weird to. I suppose it'd be easier to find someone like that now, but I don't imagine I'll bump into an ex on ICQ during the next year or so... (safe!)

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Saturday, October 21

Blatantly Cambridge dinner conversations, number one Miguel, a third year doing a project on genetic algorithms implemented in hardware (FPGAs, if you really want to know), possibly a bit like this. I'm doing stuff about stem cells and (vaguely, because I'm interested in it, cell differentiation). So: "How do the cells in an embryo/zygote/fetus know what to turn into, and where and when to do it?" General consensus was: Cells are damn clever. It's as if they've got GPS and atomic clocks built in, having a nice spatial and temporal awareness. Cells seem to know where they are, since for some reason they know their point of origin and whether they're moving dorsally or laterally from that point. At the same time, the telomeres (clock-type bits in DNA) in each cell enable the cell to know how "old" it is, or how many divisions have undergone since division one. On top of that, you've got hox genes all over the place, and they're the ones that start cascading and result in "build an arm here" instructions. Our first reaction was pretty much "cool", until we started thing about it for a while, whereupon it turned into "holy shit, those cells are damn clever". Luckily, the menu at college (accessible from inside cam.ac.uk only) is such that we really don't have much to think about while munching on stale/dry/disgusting meat/meat substitute. If you think about just that little bit more, some people seem to think that cells are intelligent. Sometimes I wonder why I'm not doing a different degree... Course, after that was over and done with, we started gossiping about who pulled who the night before...

- posted at 11:57:44 PM :: feedback

I got the Culturekiosque.com email earlier today: nice site, lots of content... could look just a little nicer, though.

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WackyBrit (no permalink) wrote the following: I Wish I Was Chinese I really do. This isn't some racial slur, but I think Chinese people are really cool. Every single Chinese person I've got to know has been really cool. The thing I've noticed about most Chinese people (or of Chinese descent) in Western society is their determination and confidence in themselves. They seem to be very skilled at running businesses and have a good head and tend not to panic. So, there you are. Chinese people are great. In response: 1. I am Chinese (British born). 2. I can frequently be heard round college going "aaaaahhh! shiiiit!" 3. I am about as confident in myself as a wet sock (assuming of course that wet socks don't have much confidence) 4. I suppose I could be determined... I have probably been determined not to be determined. I am sure that this does not count. 5. I panic on an almost daily basis. I like to think it keeps your mind sharp.

- posted at 11:21:18 PM :: feedback

When I saw the headline Online fight for girls in trousers, I thought someone had come up with another dotcom parody...

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Makes me very sad.

- posted at 11:19:54 AM :: feedback

Trans-national emergency services save man.

- posted at 11:15:36 AM :: feedback

Conflict of laws is when you take one law, stick it in a box, and then put another, more aggressive law, into the box as well, and watch them fight. The practice was recently banned in Britain, but continues in underground conflict-of-laws houses, most commonly in universities. Often, the laws refuse to fight, much to the dismay of the paying audience. In these cases, electric-shock prods, or even sharp sticks, are used to provoke the laws into lashing out at each other.

- posted at 11:02:38 AM :: feedback

If you should go down to the GBlogs Camportal today, be sure of big fuck-off optical mice... (this is getting rather silly...)

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On three: awwwww.

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Friday, October 20

Viewsource on Council of Europe - Draft Convention on Cyber-crime No. 22 Rev.2 reveals "hugefucking.png".

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Yeah. So. Bet you weren't expecting that.

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In the same way that rats jump ships, the CEO of Altavista resigns.

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prol has redesigned in a clean, minimalist, funky kind of way. Nice.

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Thursday, October 19

History is bunk.

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Am building a site for University Rag society (that one that made the magazine you got every year crammed full of dirty jokes called the Rag Mag, and the one that collects for charity). I'm frustrated. I don't have enough time to make it look good. And for reasons that I shouldn't really go into, I'm not allowed to make the site dynamic and database driven; we're going the static html route. Not my fault! (grumble)

- posted at 5:28:57 PM :: feedback

Who cares about flowers... I say you set your sights too low. No one ever sends me high-performance sportscars or cutting edge consumer electronics (hoping)...

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Wednesday, October 18

Today's Independent interview is with Big Brother UK's Nasty Nick. Best question: Can you remember who you were before you went on Big Brother? No.

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PlayList updated.

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Gallery v3.5 moved to http://danhon.com/gallery, new summer photos coming online soon...

- posted at 1:04:07 AM :: feedback

Looks like Chris has got a kickass webcam project coming up...

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My best friend from five years ago called tonight. We'd been out of touch for over two years... (was she a best friend if we were out of touch for two years?) I am far too busy at the moment. I'm doing so much. But the good thing is that I like it, and I'm not sitting around doing nothing. My time is filled. I see my friends, we go out for Starbucks (Natalie did the eye-thing at Starbucks Guy and asked if you could buy their "cute espresso mugs". Apparently you can't, but after she did the eye-thing, she got two, with saucers, for free. Jealousy), I had cooked a meal for friends tonight, I've got Rag stuff to do up to my eyeballs, got college stuff to do, I'm rowing... I love this year so far...

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Tuesday, October 17

Over breakfast this morning after rowing, an article in the Independent: state school applications to Cambridge fall this year, presumably due to the Laura Spence fiasco. Shockingly, my college comes off worst at Cambridge, with 39% state school applications and 46% of those applications succeeding... ... we eventually worked it out by assuming that no one has heard of Gonville and Caius...

- posted at 5:00:20 PM :: feedback

Well, it doesn't look like they cost over two hundred quid...
heavy, heavy books
Uses for extravagantly overpriced textbooks, number one in a series of, well, many, up until supervisors and lecturers stop plugging their own books to students.
  1. Actually learning stuff from them
  2. The perennial favourite: doorstops
  3. Build a stronger fortress for a newborn baby (newborn babies do not commonly return to their previous fortresses on account of being newborn)
  4. Throw them out the window onto unsuspecting tourists. Prospective tourists are advised to read the things to do in Cambridge section
  5. Disguise them as bricks. They're just as heavy. Then hide them in the dark, to trip people up
  6. Expensive source of papier mache
  7. Spider? Textbook. End of problem
  8. Use it to dampen vibrations on your scanning electron microscope so you can take pictures
  9. Relatively expensive source of materials for building a whole squadron of advanced paper aeroplanes
  10. Use them to construct a small gantry / staircase / ladder with which to change your lightbulb to a full-spectrum lightbulb (not only do they look nice, but apparently they're good for you)
  11. As a student, casual use of textbooks frequently leads to hard-core usage of highlighters in the mistaken belief that if you highlight something, you must know it. This is frequently not true, and you end up instead with a rather unintelligible page that hurts your eyes when you look at it. You might as well sell it as modern art
  12. You could always juggle with them. And if you're using maths textbooks, it probably constitutes mathematical exercise (absolutely no pun intended, if you laughed, you deserve to be shot)
Great things are afoot at gblogs... watch the more-or-less-already-usefully-filled-space... (doesn't quite trip off the tongue). My brother succumbed to the Great HMV Sale (adding further to the list of UK blogger casualties) by picking up an impressively cheap and worthy DVD collection: The Iron Giant (I cannot rave enough about this film), Grosse Pointe Blank (strangely topical), Ten Things I Hate About You (great teen-flick) and The Rock (apparently the "least crap" free DVD that you got when you bought three).

- posted at 2:47:43 PM :: feedback

I'm crazy. It's quarter to seven in the morning. It's still dark outside. It's bloody freezing... So whose idea was it to go rowing, then? Fool... Honestly. Clone one animal, and then everyone else starts wanting to jump on the bandwagon...

- posted at 6:47:22 AM :: feedback

Monday, October 16

Today's rowing email: For tomorrow's outing, we will meet at the porter's lodge at 7:15am and then walk down to the boathouse, check email later today to see if you are coming. Aaaaaahhhh.... I think I'm going to need lots of sleep tonight. Lots. Of course, that wouldn't be a problem had I not woken up and found a sizeable amount of skin gouged out of one of the fingers and caked in blood this morning. I normally wouldn't mind, but sometimes it's nice to know how something like that happened; it's faintly disturbing to wake up to surprise injuries...

- posted at 10:40:24 AM :: feedback

Varsity, the Cambridge student newspaper interviews Jackie Chan in Fucking Hell! It's Jackie Chan!

- posted at 10:36:24 AM :: feedback

Old, but funny (if you like that sort of thing: Britney Spears guide to Semiconuductor Physics: semiconductor physics, Edge Emitting Lasers and VCSELs.

- posted at 10:34:50 AM :: feedback

Sunday, October 15

Independent-plundering again: not only is Ed Byrne an infamously funny comic, but he loves gadgets as well.

- posted at 6:02:27 PM :: feedback

The Independent does a wonderful set of interviews where readers send in the questions. So you get interviews where Andy McNab is asked whether the pen is mightier than the sword...

- posted at 5:59:35 PM :: feedback

For some reason, this doesn't quite seem to read properly... BBC News Online reports on moving the nine o'clock news to ten o'clock...

- posted at 5:43:27 PM :: feedback

Via Chasing Jackets: babies can get depressed. “The reality is that a 4-month-old can be clinically depressed,” says Zero-to-Three Executive Director Matthew Melmed. “Babies are programmed to interact, but if they don’t get it back they withdraw.” Nurturing plays a critical role in the brain’s growth during infancy, he says."

- posted at 10:37:43 AM :: feedback

thirtysecondsummary: drinking starbucks grande mocha; nadia's law faculty espressos, clowns mocha :: rowing or tubbing in the mornings :: apathetic about human nature :: legally speaking covering equity, european, commercial, medical ethics, conflict :: playing deus ex as a sniper :: watching hollow man :: holding out for billy elliot :: organising a college orchestra :: publicising university rag :: arranging ex-housemates meal :: trying to get my hair cut :: reading absolutely sod all :: making notes on formalities regarding creation of trusts :: wishing cinemas would have more fire evacuations :: not too stressed about job prospects :: queueing for scampi at college :: mispronouncing her-my-oh-knee as her-mee-own :: being awake at ridiculous times.

- posted at 2:34:24 AM :: feedback

Saturday, October 14

BBC News Online examines what British society would be like if the drug were legalised (though without any hilarious consequences).

- posted at 9:54:47 PM :: feedback

Ahem. This may take some time, but I feel it's important, so it'd be nice if you read it through to the end... In some ways, it's nice sitting back and watching the US Presidential elections. You've got your candidates, neither of whom are particularly appealing in the slightest (I had been edging for McCain, but since he dropped out, it's marginally Gore over Bush, for what seems to me to be obvious reasons). Well, into the fray jumped Jon Katz over at slashdot.org, with his article (though I'm more inclined to term it an op-ed) Dark Hearts And The Net. It was nearly a good article. George Bush Jnr. apparently "implied Wednesday night that the Net can, by itself, turn otherwise bright and youthful hearts dark, and even goad youth to murder -- an allegation that comes in the context of a long-standing cultural civil war. It exploits the worst fears of parents who are too often ignorant of their children's technological and cultural lives". Here, I agree. Yes, it's political pandering. Yes, it's appealing to the misinformed by feeding them more misinformation and relying more on people's lack of knowledge than it is on enlightenment, and in no way does it smack of a resonable, reasoned debate. But this is politics we're talking about here, so Bush is forgiven. Katz spoils it all, though, by managing to spout the largest pile of useless bile three paragraphs later: And what a load of bollocks he's spoken. Why? What's he said? "This hysterical pandering has nothing to do with the reality of children's lives, or their welfare. If either Bush, Cheney, Gore or Lieberman cared a whit about children, they would shriek instead about the paucity of decent Internet access -- and even decent computers -- in America's public elementary and middle schools." I beg to differ, but I think anyone who's seriously interested in children wouldn't even contemplate shrieking about the paucity of decent internet access. I'd rather hope that such shrieking would be the last thign on such an interested body's mind, and that it wouldn't even be shrieking: a mere mewling I could tolerate. Excuse me? Paucity of net access? How about educational standards? How about child abuse? How about welfare? How about illiteracy? How about employment? How about giving disaffected kids something, anything, a reason to stay in school and not to muck around? How about educating mall rats (and I may be stereotyping, but unfortunately stereotypes exist for a reason), whose knowledge of world affairs, well, doesn't exist? Katz comments that "the sad political truth is that access to the Net, the Web and broadband equals creativity, confidence and opportunity". No, Jon, you're completely wrong. Completely, utterly and totally. Yes, technology can empower people. Yes it can make a difference, it can improve creativity, confidence and opportunity. But it's not the be-all and end-all, not by a long way. Is Katz seriously insinuating that he'd rather schools spent money on internet access than textbooks? Are we to suggest that we should wire up schools whilst neglecting the fact that a startling number are attempting to drop or de-emphasise the teaching of evolution in biology classes in favour of creation science? You can't, and shouldn't assume that throwing computers and technology at kids is going to make the world a better place, and it's rather ill though-out to say so: what kids need are teachers. They need adequate teaching facilties. They need well-stocked labs. They need teachers who know enough about the subject, and care enough about their subject to want to and to inspire their charges. Fortunately, I'm not the only one on slashdot who thinks this. My old school has computers falling out of its ears. I was lucky. I went to a good school, we had enough money, we had good (in most parts), teachers. I was given the right chances, the right opportunities and I was pushed. This same school had computers falling out of its ears. Fibre optic backbones. A ratio of computers to pupils that puts my current university to shame. Did those resources help anyone pass exams? Did the classrooms full of PCs help anyone understand English literature? Did they directly inspire any kids to go out and do something, did they directly inspire kids to learn? Or did they simply allow kids to check their Hotmail at lunch and send emails like the following during their lessons?
At 15:56 23/05/00 +0100, you wrote:
>what do you suck?
>not what you do
Technology's just there. Like everything, it's what you do with it that counts: if you don't have the teachers to take advantage of it, where are you going to go? You'll have thirty pieces of beige-box equipment sitting being more or less abused on a daily basis, and you're not unlocking any potential anywhere. You're wasting it. These kids don't know anymore about the net because of net access. They know the latest football scores. They know what new single's at number one. They try, vainly, to look for porn, and were surprised when we came down on them like a tonne of bricks. They send idiotic, abusive emails to each other, in a new form of playground insult. Are these kids empowered because we sat them in front of a 15 inch CRT and told them to surf the net for an hour? Of course not. People must realise that throwing technology at things doesn't make anything any better. Wiring up schools, wiring up hospitals, sharing information doesn't necessarily make anything any better unless you have better people. Technology in itself doesn't make better people, either. It can help, but you stick thirty kids down in front of your wonderful government-funded net access workstations with a horribly inept, disillusioned teacher and you have a waste of money of the highest degree. Katz says "What a shame that the many real issues surrounding technology are perverted in this shamelessly exploitive way." Yes, that's a shame. It's a shame that politicans are looking at the negative aspects of the internet in order to gain votes. Yes, it's a shame that politicians are capitalising on fear founded due to lack of knowledge. But it's also a shame that Katz is perpetuating the myth that many seem to share, including the politicians he so despairs of: technology doesn't help. People do. More Katz: "The biggest social, cultural and political issues in the country almost all relate to technology: yadda yadda gene mapping, yadda yadda birth selection, intellectual property, management of new technologies from supercomuting (sic) to AI to nanotechnology." Yes, these issues are important. Ethical considerations have to be examined. The foundation for intellectual property has to be re-examined. But before that, please look after your people. Katz is right: the internet isn't turning young hearts dark and murderous. But have you thought of what might be? Why are so many kids disaffected? Why are so many apathetic? Isn't it ironic that when adults complain about the children of this century, they complain that they're materialistically motivated, that they are so apathetic when its crass commercialism that has been drummed into their heads? Kids these days are mass-marketed into submission, and it's not as if they're "growing up" any slower. Don't be preoccupied with technology. Work out how to use it properly, and how to teach people to use it properly before you start throwing it at everyone and expect them to intuitively know how to use it positively. Go on. Disagree with me. Or agree. I need a good argument.

- posted at 1:11:43 AM :: feedback

Friday, October 13

It's sad that a large portion of the public now associates the phrase "Big Brother" with a certain television show, ostensibly a social experiment, but instead (and rather worryingly) rather gripping and base entertainment, and don't have any idea about the book (scroll down the link to see the amusing Gilbert and Sullivan version) [Amazon UK] from which the show derives its name. Of much more interest, though, is spy.org.uk who, as they put it, watch the watchers: check out the technology section to find out what the Nanny state's doing now...

- posted at 3:05:20 PM :: feedback

Via TechDirt, apparently more Germans turn off their mobile phones during movies than sex... I think priorities are seriously out of whack there...

- posted at 2:54:13 PM :: feedback

Cambridge University reveals their Master Plan, a frightening scheme to concentrate some of the world's best scienctific minds into a large, pleasant environment, training them to take over the world... at the same time, they're trying out collaborative architectural design...

- posted at 8:18:00 AM :: feedback

Thursday, October 12

Okay, I was joking when I said that you could get a wireless LAN card for an AIBO. But Sony, in a fit of supreme coolness, have damn well gone and made one available anyway... and have you seen the software packs? Cute little boxes containing "personality enhancement" modules and "party mascot" modules? How Asimovian?

- posted at 10:25:25 PM :: feedback

Sod the flying cars. At least we've got robot dogs with cool product names... and what's the likelihood of being able to give it ethernet or wireless LAN connectivity through the PC Card and get your dog to read you your email?

- posted at 10:15:10 PM :: feedback

I don't bloody believe it. Nathan Barley's turned up in Cambridge and started whatcam.com...

- posted at 9:35:59 PM :: feedback

Bizarrely, stress makes me go deaf in my right ear. I can't hear in my right ear. This will pass. In the meantime, YOU MAY HAVE TO SHOUT (or simply move round to my left).

- posted at 1:08:40 PM :: feedback

Have been busy. In no particular order, have been: 1. Rowing (is v. fun, and actually really like it). 2. Panicking about jobs 3. Amused at timing re: job offers and lack of 4. Going to supervisions 5. Visiting Starbucks 6. Trying not to fall asleep in lectures 7. Playing Deus Ex. 8. Becoming a kick-ass sniper guy 9. Being annoyed that Deus Ex no longer works 10. Growing my MP3 collection at an exponential rate

- posted at 1:02:44 PM :: feedback

Tuesday, October 10

And I thought I lost my cookie: eGruops is the same as eGroups...

- posted at 5:30:59 PM :: feedback

Oh my Jesus Christ, what in the Name of God happened to Weblogs.Com? It's gone all MacOS X-aqua-ised...

- posted at 1:01:28 AM :: feedback

Monday, October 9

... and how is BT offering broadband at £129.99 a month ex. VAT and £159.99 a month ex. VAT cheaper than getting a conventional T1?

- posted at 3:42:46 PM :: feedback

I shit ye not: a portable recordable minidisc player with wireless watch remote... and who makes this? It could only be Sony, really...

- posted at 3:37:45 PM :: feedback

I am actually waiting with baited breath to find out whether meg brought yet another piece of consumer electronics kit over the weekend, or whether she's managed to break the curse of hangover-induced-electronic-goods buying...

- posted at 3:32:32 PM :: feedback

Posted to ukbloggers earlier this week: ... so we [Adrian and I] got barred from Freeserve Unlimited the other day, thanks to being in the 1% of users whose usage is considered 'abnormal' and are spending about 16+ hours online per day... Anyone got any suggestions for other ISPs to use that offer flat-rate connections? I remember raving about Freeserve to you all, but evidently that's not an option anymore... suggestions?

- posted at 3:30:13 PM :: feedback

BBC News Online searches reveal that it's easier to incite public alarm [12 occurences] than it is to incite public fear [8 occurences]...

- posted at 3:26:03 PM :: feedback

Second posting today, but what the hell: Endangered species cloned, scientist says "We do play God when we wreak havoc on the environment". Bollocks to that. Most people who're religious would think God would tend to be a bit more responsible if God were to wreak havoc on the environment. Apart from all that flooding stuff... No, of course we're not playing God. We don't all have big white beards for starters. What we are doing is possibly playing the part of those pesky humans who have free will and generally don't particularly think things through (even the intelligent ones...)

- posted at 3:21:11 PM :: feedback

So let me get this straight: it's an Arnie film (by the way, nice photo, you so don't look like you're constipated), it's about cloning (humans, not animals), the trailer's lifted Rob D's contribution to the Matrix soundtrack, it's called The Sixth Day, and preliminary screenings are positive. Got that? Arnie Movie, people are saying it's a Good Movie. About Cloning. What's my dissertation on? Genetic (ish) engineering. Think I can blag college to pay for my ticket? Do I hell...

- posted at 3:17:54 PM :: feedback

I really should have known better: 350 stories match the query " zero tolerance ". (BBC News Online).

- posted at 3:02:05 PM :: feedback

Definitely a silly domain name: House of Lords Appointments Commission.

- posted at 1:13:14 AM :: feedback

Widely regarded as one of the best sci-fi authors ever, The Future of Humanity: a Lecture by Isaac Asimov. Rather stunningly, this lecture was given in 1974, and when you get to the part about living in the twenty first century (which we are, worryingly), you suddenly realise exactly how clued up this guy was...

- posted at 12:51:51 AM :: feedback

Friday, October 6

Link pillaging from current AT&T research in Cambridge. The Broadband Phone System (gimme now), and the Sentient Computing Project cool name, cool stuff (no, in fact, incredibly cool stuff)...

- posted at 2:39:04 PM :: feedback

Bet with a friend. I can't really lose...

- posted at 1:40:28 AM :: feedback

things that've been really pissing me off [thanks, meg]
  1. My job. Or lack of.
  2. Damn freshers clogging up the roads on the way to lectures
  3. College food. It really is that bad, and is the only place where I can legitimately use the phrase mutton dressed as lamb literally
  4. Having to write essays already
  5. Not having the right people for the job
  6. Having to buy textbooks again. All over bloody again
  7. Nine o'clock lectures
  8. People pretending to be nice and making conversation when it's blatantly obvious that either a) they want something off you, or b) realised you weren't the person they thought you were
  9. Overhearing someone say "So what a-levels did you do?" for the nth time
  10. Queueing. For anything.
  11. People who don't queue. Bastards
  12. Not being in London
  13. Actually having to wait for coffee, when all you really want is an IV drip of caffeine
  14. Not being able to get to sleep before half past one in the morning
  15. Not being able to do a full text search on printed books. Bastards
  16. Not being able to call all your friends on their mobiles, because they haven't got one
  17. Not being able to call your friend on her mobile because she hasn't given anyone the number yet
  18. The fact that I put my name down for rowing, when it's blatantly going to kill me

- posted at 1:33:57 AM :: feedback

a few of my favourite things
  1. Talking to friends for hideous amounts of time because you've just printed out sixty pages of material for your dissertation and you only have one lecture tomorrow.
  2. The patisserie that's opened up in the Law faculty. Yum.
  3. It's getting colder, so the tourists normally clogging up the streets in Cambridge have started to migrate south.
  4. Being in the bizarre position of being given two university ID smartcards so I have the enviable ability to swipe into two separate locations at the same time, and thus fool security guards.
  5. The bedder who cleans my room ever day.
  6. Our new EU lecturer, who started at Cambridge today and was wonderfully eager and obviously loved her subject while at the same time managed to belittle Margaret Thatcher in every other sentence.
  7. My college wife managed to adopt some kids, so now we are no longer childless...
  8. Free cocktails.

- posted at 1:26:14 AM :: feedback

Not so much as interested in Meg's poll of how many shoes we own as how many socks we've lost... well?

- posted at 1:24:11 AM :: feedback

One for my brother: Mars Society activists speak out to Bush and Gore... "While outnumbered by the estimated 10,000 protesters who congregated along the streets outside the university, protesting everything from the exclusion of third-party candidates from the debate to issues like abortion and the death penalty, the Mars Society group with their red and white "On To Mars!" signs attracted the interest -- and often support -- of many passers-by."

- posted at 1:16:07 AM :: feedback

Genetic Algorithm controlled networks appear in New Scientist yet again, touted as improving net efficiency, but with a tad more information. BT seems to be pumping out the same press release...

- posted at 1:14:47 AM :: feedback

Thursday, October 5

This year, I will mostly be doing: European Union Law, Commercial Law, Equity and Conflict of Laws. Oh, and the fabled dissertation on Medical Ethics, of which this search has already produced an absolute shedload of material. I will, of course, be popping into that library thing that we've got. Of course, the fact that they've got these has nothing to do with it, of course...

- posted at 11:08:22 PM :: feedback

Aaah. Lectures.

- posted at 8:33:54 AM :: feedback

Lectures start today: 9, 10 and 11am and 4pm, so bedtime soon (I'm completely shattered after having gone out most nights for the last week and a half, so sleep before three hours of concentration is probably a good idea...) I am not in a good mood. Winamp is on wallow mode. Lights are down low. My timetable's in, I've heard jack about my job, there's (ahem) something that some of my friends know about, and we had our first essay set today. Yay. And I'm still goddamn busy. Freshers' week is much more fun (ish) when you're a third year. You get to play the part of cynical-grown-up-student and reading freshers' week guides is all the more amusing. Turning up to freshers' events and loudly saying to your friends "well of course I did A-level bollocks with the complete shite module, what did you do?" and "well, in my gap year I helped build a school for blind, deaf, dumb, tetraplegic, downs syndrome kids in outer mongolia as part of my middle-class package holiday tour..." "Computer geeks are also suddenly catapulted into a whole new situation where reading PC World actually finds you friends as computers crash before important deadlines." - Because it's a well known fact that anyone who knows anything about computers is socially inept? I always wonder who gets to write things like these... Today's shameless linky-love is to mememachine, for obvious uni-related reasons.

- posted at 12:19:38 AM :: feedback

Tuesday, October 3

Heh. Judging from the lack of updates, it seems that freshers' week is still in full swing at Oxbridge...

- posted at 11:01:12 AM :: feedback

This sucks. Whilst I was working in London for the last six weeks, I was reading the Independent, happily spending 45p every day in the secure knowledge that it wasn't a) The Times, or b) The Daily Telegraph. For the last six years, we've been getting the Times, and I've slowly watched it become dumbed down and try and go for the mass market while reading the Daily Telegraph is probably physically harmful to me. The Guardian's all nice and fluffy, but that's its problem: it's a bit fluffy, and I find myself all too readily agreeing with it most of the time. So anyway: The Independent. Wonderful. New problem: I'm back at college and now have free net access. Do I buy the paper at the ridiculous expense of 45p a day or do I just read it online? Bit of a no-brainer, really: of course I'd read it online. You'd think. See, I liked the paper because for a whole pile of reasons, not least of which was the fact that it had good layout. The nice thing about newspapers is that invariably I end up ploughing through them; you scan the entire page. You end up reading stories you wouldn't normally read. Of course, you could argue that you can do this on the web, but it's not exactly the same (inline hyperlinks v. stories on the page?) The website's good for some things: it's searchable (as it damn well should be), in ways that dead tree media isn't, which is starting to become startling apparent. Trying to find the business plan parody in Cryptonomicon is bloody impossible, and when you start trying to do an F3 / Ctrl-F on the book jacket you're not so much as clutching at straws as making a fool of yourself. I can't use the website, though. I don't read it. I hardly ever look. It doesn't have an index of the day's stories as they appear in the paper, which is something the Times has (though I have many other problems with the Times's site). I can't browse through the day's paper. All I can do is read, at random, "World" or "UK" stories or other such categories. The damn thing's go non-linear, and I liked the linearity of the thing in the first place... It's not as if they could put a text index in, hell, I'd be completely over the moon if they pdfed the damn thing and put it up for upload (and I might even pay for it... in fact, I probably would pay for it)... Damn newspapers and their constantly-updating-news-website...

- posted at 10:53:16 AM :: feedback

Okay, I give up. I reinstalled Windows 2000. I downloaded the newest versions (and the old versions) of Palm's HotSync and Palm Desktop software. I installed it. It broke. I installed it again, and it broke again. I beat my Palm with a wooden cudgel, and all it did was remind me that I'd better damn well get up before eight this morning, otherwise when the nice NTL engineers came to install my line, they'd be treated to an exclusive viewing of bed-head. I thought maybe it was because I was being impatient, and that maybe software might take more than no time at all to do stuff these days: so I waited. Now my Palm's been busy "determining handheld configuration" at one end and "identifying user" at the other... anyone got any ideas? Like practically everyone else who went shopping over the weekend, I went to HMV... but only spent twelve quid on a magazine and two albums. Don't know whether this was a victory or not...

- posted at 8:32:43 AM :: feedback

I have now lost all sense of time, and seem to be living it a closed timelike curve. (Crichton's Timeline is okay, but I only really read it for the quantum physics): today is the same as yesterday is the same as tomorrow. At least, until lectures start. I helped Adrian move in on Sunday, an extremely weird experience because as far as I'm concerned, he's my little brother, and far too young to be doing the university thang. Even more bizarre when I bump into friends of his at the Fez Club.

- posted at 12:25:51 AM :: feedback

Sunday, October 1

'Poetry please' say medics is the BBC News story on medical students being encouraged to express their hopes and fears about becoming doctors through creative writing classes - a seven week module is being started at Newcastle. Mental note: must ask friends doing medicine at Newcastle how it's going...

- posted at 1:54:31 AM :: feedback

Little Black Dress, via Jen seems like a cool idea for girls who just get that shopping urge, but wouldn't a much cooler idea be soberblacksuit.com, where blokes with no fashion sense would get complete matching outfits?

- posted at 1:33:18 AM :: feedback

Some of my friends seem to think that I have a reputation for irreverent humour. So obviously, when I was asked to do a quickie poster for JSoc, the university's Jewish Society (close friend is a rep), I came up with this (pdf format)... Apparently, though, it's been amusing people all over the place, so I'm getting a nice warm feeling inside.

- posted at 1:13:24 AM :: feedback

Has anyone noticed the randomised image bar to the right of the posts? You can get a really cool one of a bagel above the skull, where the bagel looks like the skull's eyesocket. Is it just me, or is that just incredibly bizarre?

- posted at 1:01:21 AM :: feedback

As if there wasn't already enough linky love, where bloghop ratings are concerned, I'm struggling (in a humble way) to work out a) who rated me, and b) why they rated me so nicely. Regardless, thank you one and all!

- posted at 12:50:20 AM :: feedback

The joys of a permanent ten megabit net connection, number one: I can't believe I spent half an hour this afternoon whilst reading up on medical ethics having live video streamed from Grande Fratello, the Italian Big Brother site... I've even already decided on who I want to vote out. This does not bode well.

- posted at 12:42:29 AM :: feedback

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