listening to:

Wednesday, October 31

No sense of direction

I'm clearly not cut out for this. After my last foray on to motorways I managed to end up in Cheadle when I was actually aiming for Stockport. You can tell where this is going, can't you...

It's not that hard to drive to Cambridge from where I live. It's just a simple question of getting onto the M6 (easy) and then heading, well, down it until you reach the M1 and then hopping across to the A14 and the M11. Bob's your uncle, Maud's your aunt and you can pick the name of any siblings you want. Only it would be that easy had you decided to go all the way down the M6. On a Friday. At around four o'clock. By Birmingham. That would plainly be suicidal. This is why, in deference to the God or Goddess of Route Planning, I was advised to take the A500/A50 and merrily skip across the country, avoiding a) the Brummie accent (no outraged gasps at the back there, I used to live in Birmingham and loved it there) and b) other cars. See? That's a plan.

As we all know, even the best laid plans of men--and mice--are subject to disasterous cockups every now and then. Notwithstanding the fact that mice can't drive (can't reach the pedals and see over the dashboard at the same time, I expect, and would probably have to have either an intricate system of levers and string or, more probably, have a look-out mouse shouting out instructions to a couple of mice on the accelerator and brake pedals. Let's leave the clutch out for a moment and assume that the mice, for simplicity and because they don't like creating more work than necessary, have hired an automatic car), it seems that I wouldn't be able to navigate myself out of bed in the morning were it not for the fact that one side of it is propped firmly against a wall.

I've pointed this out before. More often than not, if you're taking a road, there's normally two directions that you can take it in. East or west. North or south or, God forbid, some unholy combination of the four. Some roads, confusingly, even appear to go in all directions. I'm sure that when I was cursing my way around the Manchester ring road I saw signs for M60(N), M60(E), M60(W) and M60(S) all at the same time. This, I tell you, is plainly Not Fair.

So there I was. Junction sixteen of the M6, all prepared to take the A500 and A50 towards Uttoxeter. Only when I got to the roundabout Uttoxeter had decided to do a Lord Lucan and what I was confronted was something along the lines of this:

At this point, the panic starts setting in and acknowledging that it's simply silly to keep going around a roundabout relentlessly until divine inspiration strikes, I decided to head off in the direction of Some place you've never heard of, which sounded much more inviting and friendly than Some other place you've never heard of, which sounded as if it harboured axe-murderers who'd bundle me into the back of their cars, head off in some direction that they were pretty certain about and chop me up into small uneven pieces.

It stands to reason that I actually wanted to be heading in the direction of Some other place you've never heard of, and that although I'm sure Some place you've never heard of would have been nice and wonderful, when, after ten minutes, I started recognising signs pointing to places that were startling near where I live I realised that perhaps I was heading in the wrong direction, stopped in a layby, cursed, well, roads, and turned around.

Imagine that this happened all over again with the A50 and that I managed to drive through Stoke on Trent twice once in the wrong direction and the second time in the right direction (finally), but an average speed of, oooh, walking pace, because it had suddenly turned dark and rush-hour-time as well. Which was fun.

The rest of the trip was fine. I only arrived at around half eight having set off five hours earlier. The fact that the return trip took about an hour and a half less made me feel much better.

- posted at 3:02:49 PM :: feedback

Tuesday, October 30

Interim Release

Tidied up the css (increased line heights to make the text a bit more readable, I might play with link colours to make them a little more visible over the next few days) and updated some of the includes for reading/listening over on the right.

- posted at 10:35:45 PM :: feedback

Geek

Some people might consider RFC 1178 to be rather funny. Or not.

- posted at 6:17:18 PM :: feedback

Fucking Bandwidth Stealers

See this? It's someone's personal profile page-type-thing. See that black and white photo of an eye in the background? That's my eye. My fucking eye, and it's being hosted off Chris's server. So. Suggestions as to what merry message should replace said picture of the eye are glady appreciated...

- posted at 5:37:44 PM :: feedback

Honestly...

You'd think everyone wants to have a go at Oxbridge nowadays... After the Times picks up the Varsity story about St. Catharine's college students behaving, well, like students, people suddenly make a big deal out of drinking societies. Big whoop-dee-doo. Jeremy Paxman's comments to the Times sum it up pretty well:

“How ghastly. Can’t they hold their drink any more? It’s pathetic.”

Anyway. This is what pennying looks like...

- posted at 2:13:52 PM :: feedback

Monday, October 29

Forwarding address

Someone keeps moving blogs every so often and the only way I can find them is through referrer logs: Wonderful Remark... Ha! Found you again! (PS. Law school is fun...)

- posted at 7:21:33 PM :: feedback

Game on, dude

From AliasGame, a bash history file and people are already attempting to ssh in... The game, it appears, is afoot...

- posted at 4:17:47 PM :: feedback

Gossip, gossip, gossip

To your heart's content at The Celeb Network...

- posted at 3:22:23 PM :: feedback

Friday, October 26

Scribblings

Driving
I went and visited a close friend in hospital the other day. Not too far away, an hour's drive from where I live. I checked out the address from nhs.uk and used Multimap to figure out how to get there. Oh, and pulled an AA Road Atlas off the bookshelf. Redundancy makes me feel good, see. I have a morbid fear of either being late or just getting completely and utterly lost. This is good in the sense that whenever I have to be somewhere I'm normally there, well, when I have to be. Most of the time it all works out wonderfully. Sometimes, like on Wednesday, it all just goes a bit pear-shaped.

It was technically an easy trip. Down one motorway, up another, along a ringroad, then down two A roads. At least, that's what the directions told me. So when the motorway numbers started to mismatch in a most horrendous manner (63? Where's that? I see a 60 and a 62. Hm. No 63) and I start ignoring turnoffs in favour of What Is Written In My Directions And Must Be Right, bad things start happening. Like heading round the ringroad in the opposite direction. And learning that even if the signs say that it's north or eastbound, it isn't actually, because my sense of direction isn't that bad and because if you're going clockwise around a ringroad that you've joined at the six o'clock mark, you're generally heading westwards.

So that was the motorway fun. The wonderful feeling of "Hm. I should have taken that turning...". Oh, but we're not even on to the A roads yet. Oh no. You see, when the directions say "Take the A so-and-so", then you generally assume that this isn't going to be much of a problem. Of course, you'd assume that if you didn't realise that roads do tend to run in two directions unless, well, they're Special Roads. It's normally quite useful then to know in which direction you want to head...

It's a fifty/fifty choice really, isn't it?

Of course, I chose the wrong fifty. I ended up in Cheadle, of all places, swung around a roundabout and headed back the other way. So that was fun. I only arrived an hour later than I should have. The journey back, of course, was easy. No problems there at all.

I've learnt a great lesson from this: driving around Manchester isn't fun at all. Oh, and I really need to drive on motorways more, otherwise they'll continue to freak me out.

Religious Wars
Two discussions today about practically the same thing, but taking on completely different tones. One was in an IRC channel and about, well, Microsoft and The Way They Do Things. Ended terribly with no kind of agreement whatsoever. The other was on a mailing list where I was being gently persuaded--or just being asked--whether I'd switch from Windows 2000 over to *nix. Nice pleasant back-and-forth ("these are my reasons, see?" countered by "ah, but this," followed by "I see your point. How about this?) which was fun because everyone learnt something new: the *nixers learnt that Sun have an .asp platform for *nix (Chili!Soft) and I learnt that if I wasn't using NTFS Mandrake and Win2k would happily resize my partitions for me and I wouldn't have to go out and get a copy of Partition Magic.

Interview
I first-round interview with these people today in Manchester, then it's cavorting off to Cambridge for the weekend to meet up with friends.

- posted at 12:21:13 AM :: feedback

Thursday, October 25

Fillums, part two

Pirates of Silicon Valley rocked. Noah Wyle rocks. The guy who played Bill Gates was just plain scary.

- posted at 3:10:30 AM :: feedback

Wednesday, October 24

Rant

There follows below a rant I posted to a mailing list I'm a member of after reading Dave Winer's post:

Please excuse my really quite pissed off mood, but this *really* annoys me.

I'm reading Dave Winer's site because, well, the guy does know his stuff, he's up on his XML and his RSS and, although slightly scary and evangelical sometimes he does say stuff worth listening to.

Not this time.

"Then I heard a report about the IRA and Sinn Fein. I thought to myself "Poor Irish terrorists, they're not getting their fair share of the attention." Then I had a terrible thought. Maybe in the future the terrorists will compete to destroy pieces of the US to get CNN to tell their story and put their leaders on TV. Maybe Ireland wants to start a competitor to Al-Jazeera. What better way than to export some of your terror to the good ole US of A?"

- (here)

As I said, this *really* annoys me. Maybe I'm not getting the point of what he's saying. Maybe he doesn't actually mean what I *think* he means, but it really sounds to me that he doesn't realise that most of the IRA's funding comes from the USA in the first place. And as one of my friends pointed out, if you combine this with the fact that some people don't think it's terrorism if it doesn't happen to them, then that's just tough luck.

Grr.

I'm going to have to lie down or something.

The mailing list that I co-mod (Cloudmakers) and its IRC channel that I also co-mod (#evanchan) is, not surprisingly, full of Americans. This is not a big deal. I'm wonderfully centrist and liberal, and whilst others will want to kickban those who just Don't Get It I'm perfectly willing to talk them round into some sense. Some guy wandered into the IRC channel and wondered if, because Anthrax had been apparently used as a terrorist weapon in the states, whether the US should use bioweapons in Afghanistan.

The room went quiet.

"Well," I said, "that wouldn't make much sense, would it?"

"Why?" he replied, "They're using them on us. We should use them on them."

We tried to explain how they probably couldn't be well-targeted enough. That no one really knew who was behind the anthrax attacks, and that terrorists tend to be a nebulous bunch at the best of times (when they're effective). The guy descended into some kind of swearing match with one of the channel regulars and got kicked. I was prepared to just wait it out and try to get him to realise that what he was suggesting was unworkable, if not stupid.

People are *really* pissing me off at the moment. So many are complete fucking clueless idiots who're perfectly happy to wonder if they've got anthrax or not or to think that they might be the target of an attack. There was a great article on Salon a while back about why Americans had this whole mental block on world affairs and was great for me in at least one explanation as to all this introvertism that they (sorry for mass-labelling there) exhibit.

I *REALLY* wish people would fucking grow up. I'm having dinner and reading the paper and the UDF are saying that even if the IRA start disarming, they won't put their weapons away. No, because they need to defend themselves against the *possibility* of a future IRA attack. Never mind the fact that they're busy killing people. Oh, and the Middle East. Wonderful. Just kill CHILDREN for fuck's sake. Organised religion really needs to take a step back. No, scratch that. Fucking IDIOTS need to take a step back, and grow the fuck up.

Actually, I think I *will* take a lie down now.

- posted at 11:24:34 PM :: feedback

Fillums

With the addition of FilmFour, we now have a very full film package at home. FilmFour's listings service is useful: lets you know what films are on TV on every channel up to seven days in the future. Good fun. Tonight? Taping/watching Pirates of Silicon Valley.

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

Tuesday, October 23

Dave Winer, You've Done It Again

Okay, the guy can talk about XML. He can talk about RSS. But if he says something like this again:

"Then I heard a report about the IRA and Sinn Fein. I thought to myself "Poor Irish terrorists, they're not getting their fair share of the attention." Then I had a terrible thought. Maybe in the future the terrorists will compete to destroy pieces of the US to get CNN to tell their story and put their leaders on TV. Maybe Ireland wants to start a competitor to Al-Jazeera. What better way than to export some of your terror to the good ole US of A?"

Um. Newsflash. The IRA gets a substantial part of its funding from (now this may be a big shock to you, Dave)... the USA! Oh no! That's terrible.

This really, really annoys me. Find out about what you're spouting off about before you start spouting. It's not hard.

- posted at 11:53:18 PM :: feedback

Monday, October 22

This Bud's for You

"Policemen, firemen, the mayor of my town, the dudes hanging off of the paper truck. Mr. Chang down at the local deli sells me morning coffee wishes me good luck.

"This is for the people in my neighborhood, that help me through the day, and make me feel good.

"This Bud's for you. And you and you and you. This Bud's for you. And you and you and you.

"This Bud's for busdrivers, cabdrivers, local gas station guys, Sal and his brother makin' mean pizza pie. Tattoo-Tony and his cool muscle shirt, Maria on the corner lookin' good in a skirt.

"This is for the people in my neighborhood, who help me through the day, and make me feel good. This Bud's for you. And you and you and you. This Bud's for you."

Of course, if I actually bought that many drinks for people, I'd have even less money than I have now.

- posted at 3:31:21 PM :: feedback

Saturday, October 20

Browsers

Mozilla 0.95 rocks, especially tabbed browsing. Finally made a NS compatible version of the potential new Cloudmakers site: version 3 is oodles of platform compatible (so far, wonderful on IE5.3.1 and Omniweb on MacOS X and IE5.x, IE6, NS4.7 and Moz0.9, 0.95 on Windows). The only problem so far is css text definitions on the MacOS Opera Beta, but apart from that it's all great.

Of course, to make the damn thing work, I had to rip out all the funky dHTML and replace css positioning with less-funky tables. And I even had to resort to using single-pixel gifs for furniture and spacing. Damnit.

In other news: first round interview date is set for Friday.

- posted at 4:36:06 PM :: feedback

Wednesday, October 17

Job the Second

Interview with accenture. Last Thursday's interview seemed to go well, should hear back within three weeks.

I am being minimalist at the moment.

- posted at 12:36:49 AM :: feedback

Wednesday, October 10

Job

Interview with Hewitson Becke & Shaw on Thursday 11 October at 2:30pm.

- posted at 11:49:47 PM :: feedback

Thursday, October 4

Wow

My brother looks like a psycho all dressed up like that.

- posted at 12:07:20 AM :: feedback

Soundtracks

I couldn't wait to drive to college this morning. It's the small things, you see. I'd finally made some time to make a new tape for listening to in the car, and (for various reasons), had to go about it by a horribly complicated process that had been put off for about a week because it involved things like burning a CD, rebooting my PC and generally being far more organised than I am. Anyway. I made a new compilation tape for the car, something that I could listen to since the old one was not so much getting long in the tooth as sprouting wisdom teeth. I couldn't stand to listen to it anymore and instead had resorted--shock horror--to actually listening to Sara Cox in the mornings. Not a good situation to be in.

There I am, then, with sixty minutes of gorgeous music that I've put together for driving. There's the funky dancey stuff that's nice to thump-thump-thump down the motorway to (some Groove Armada, a little Chicane, a smattering of Fragma and the required shot of Daft Punk and Rui Da Silva make side A worth listening to, but then it all mellows out into Side B. We've got some--two tracks!--Nelly Furtado, who has a gorgeous voice, some happy clappy Morcheeba and, in a crass tip to commercialism, the Dandy Warhols track from the current Vodafone "How are you?" advert. Oh, and one Linkin Park track (but don't tell anyone).

It's this kind of thing that can make my day. Making a tape to drive to is somehow incredibly fulfilling. Either I need to get out more or...

Other Big News is that I've got a job interview next week for a law firm down south which should be fun. Got a careers interview all booked and ready at law college so that I can have some practise grilling. I suppose it's time to check that my suit's still alright and my shirts are all ironed. Gah. It really doesn't get any duller than this.

Things to do: finish paper on the Cloudmakers community (now have Amy Jo Kim's book, busy ploughing through it), work out exactly how I can code my Next Big Project seeing as some people have expressed an interest in it, call some friends and sort out whatever my bunch of friends want to do for New Years...

Oh. And build two wardrobes and two bookshelves. This weekend's going to be gripping.

- posted at 12:05:50 AM :: feedback

Monday, October 1

Mega Mega Mad thing

And relax.

It feels like I've been dashing around like a mad thing for the last few days. I probably haven't. I mean, compared to Tony Blair's 'shuttle diplomacy' that was more like a gap year condensed into three days and more politically high powered to boot, it was nothing. But hey, I feel tired now, and that's my excuse.

Friday saw me packing for a long(ish) weekend away in Cambridge where I'd be visiting about three different groups of friends: friends from home back at university, friends from university still at university and friends who really should have left university, but there for that weekend because they had nothing better to do. Or rather bossy significant others.

Packing's fun. I'm an expert packer now. This expert packing, though, hasn't removed any last-minute panics or even that unassailable feeling I get when I'm sat in a car/coach/plane/train where I'm convinced that I've forgotten something and end up delving into deep recesses of my bag to triumphantly emerge with the half of the mobile phone charger I was sure I'd forgotten. Nope. But packing's easy. It's just staying calm that isn't.

Anyway. The plan was to head over to Liverpool to meet Kate, who was also heading off to Cambridge for the weekend. I'd more or less offered to sit in her car and hold various foodstuffs for her and engage her in conversation in exchange for and pay her money in exchange for a lift to Cambridge. The rather less interesting story would be that she was popping down for a diving course and to see her boyfriend, and it didn't really make sense for both of us to drive or for one of us to take a train. So: Road Trip.

In between packing and Road Trip, though, was an amusing diversion at Ikea. My brother was desperate to pick up what I might describe "funky stuff" to fill his room with (he ended up raiding the marketplace for kitchen implements and buying a bizarre mini footstool/futon thing that I thought looked quite cool), whilst I was more of a man with a mission: a couple of Pax Lendra cupboards and acres of shelving and storage space for my soon-to-be-gutted bedroom. Excellent. And major damage to a parental credit card. Exactly the way that shopping should work.

An aside: we ate at McDonalds at the retail estate just before we dived into the Swiss Mecca of Home Furnishing, and I was surprised (or shocked and horrified) to see a notice proclaiming "live jazz on Sundays". At McDonalds. I seriously considered running about like Chicken Little.

A smooth pickup at Liverpool Lime Street Station saw me jetisson parental credit card and younger brother and dive into Kate's car, whereupon we completely and utterly failed to go the right way to the motorway in a wonderfully humourous fashion that I shan't bore you with. Needless to say that our plan of escaping at half three on a Friday, thus beating the rush hour traffic, was completely and utterly destroyed when a pileup on the M6 slowed us down just enough to hit the rush hour traffic. And the less said about finding the right service stations (and the right junctions) the better. Just because I was the one holding the map does not mean that I was solely to blame. I'm not knocking Kate's driving or navigational ability at all (it's orders of magnitude better than mine, and she routinely laughs at me when I drive us around back home, staring bewilderingly at various turnoffs), I'm just trying to absolve any blame on my part.

Cambridge was fun. Met up with a whole bunch of people: people like me (graduate lawyers at law school taking the weekend off), people nearly like me (graduates who are temping for a while so they can escape and universally head off for a combination of a) Malaysia, b) China, c) Japan and d) (and most commonly) Australia), people less like me (friends on four year courses) and people not like me at all (friends the same age as me who are now, scarily, doing PhDs or MAs). Oh, and a whole big bunch of pubbage.

Bless the freshers, though. All of them, in fact. All one hundred and eighty of them--cunningly, College had forgotten all about A-Level grade inflation and acted like a rabbit-like-thing caught in headlights when all of the students with offers managed to make their grades. Anyway: sat in my (ex) college bar on Saturday night waiting for the little things to wander in all wide-eyed and "What's your name? What A-levels did you do?" when we promptly fell on the floor laughing when we saw them form an orderly queue at the bar.

Seriously.

They queued.

Combined with McDonalds playing host to Live Jazz, I seriously think there's something up with the world at the moment...

- posted at 11:59:59 PM :: feedback

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