We saw the trailer for Man in the Moon last night before Galaxy Quest. Big problem: we don't know who Andy Kaufman is. At all. No idea. Managed to work out from the trailer that he was in some American TV show Saturday Night Live as a comedian or something. You Americans are going to have to explain to us Brits exactly who this guy is, otherwise we're just not going to be interested in the film at all. And we're already boycotting that new U-Boat / Enigma machine debacle of a film...
I like to go off on tangents. I like to say weird, provactive things, because, well, they're weird and if no one else said them then the world would be a much more boring place. And anyway, sometimes they tend to be quite funny, and if people laugh then that's a good thing.
Today's weird provocative, or sheer off-the-wall thought was during dinner at college: Bryan Adams as Jesus. Not exactly sure how we got onto this one, but it came after talking about how fish breathe (i.e., they absorb dissolved oxygen, they don't splitting water). I think we somehow started talking about Bryan Adams, and how his song Everything I Do, I Do it for You was a very noble song. And then I thought that was a good basis (okay, admittedly rather flimsy) for him to be a messianic figure. Whatever. Weird conversation about Bryan Adams feeding people at his rock concerts.
A very hastily put-together law section with some essays and old material, ostensibly under the lame reason that I'll be able to check the essays I've written from the faculty without having to carry pesky disks round.
"Hello, this is RADIO ONE!" - Presenter "woooooooooo!" - crowd "How are we Bristol?" "woooooooooo!" "This is Moloko!" "woooooooooo!" "You're not listening to what I'm saying!" "woooooooooo!" "Are you?" "woooooooooo!" "Can you say anything apart from "woooooooooo!" loudly?" "woooooooooo!"
Hmmm... this feels a little like a "state of me" address to the thousands and thousands... well, tens and tens, I suppose, of people who visit this site. What's been happening lately? Not much. Exams and stuff are looming on the deceptively far-away horizon. They're not so much looming, really, as peeking out round the corner in a particularly menacing way. Wait. That's looming.
Got in an argument about that cuban boy with a couple of friends today, but managed to defuse the situation by suggesting that we all go out and watch Galaxy Quest. That seemed to work quite well, because we haven't mentioned that cuban boy since.
The last couple of days have been weird. Thursday night we were up until one in the morning playing frisbee in the middle of the street and had some great fun. Friday night we played Monopoly until about two in the morning, and tonight we watched Galaxy Quest, sat around and talked and stuff. Mostly about cake. A bit about quantum physics (two of my friends are physics undergrads and were trying to explain things about cats and observers).
I've been single since September. That's the longest I've been single since... well, must be a long time. I think I've gotten used to it now. If I had to admit it, I'd say that I used to be an annoyingly needy and dependent person (see the doozer entry on ptypes) but that now, although I'm not exactly not an annoyingly needy and dependent person, I like to think I'm less annoying and needy. Which is good. And instead of reacting to being single with some form of shock-mock-horror-slapping-hands-to-cheeks "oh my God I'm single what am I going to do now?!", I think I've pretty much laid back and had to take resigned acceptance of that fact. As in: "I seem to be single. Huh.".
Anyway, I've always found that whenever you're actually looking for someone or at least being proactive in the whole find-a-relationship area, nothing seems to happen. In fact, most of the time anything's happened to me, I've been completely oblivious to it until it hit me in the face. So to speak. As in: "Dan wouldn't know if a girl was interested in him unless she came up to him and kissed him on the face". Which has pretty much happened before. And I still don't know what was going on...
I think "Bleh" pretty much sums it up.
Anyway, off the subjects of relationships, it seems that my brother has taken the seemingly unilateral action of deleting Billie Piper's new single Day and Night off our home desktop just because Napster users are perpetually downloading it. After listening to the single, he concluded that it was a BritneyClone (tm) and "Said song is consigned to the Recycle Bin and permanently deleted with extreme prejudice."
Bah. He wouldn't know teeny pop if it came up and kissed him on the face.Them thar song's gonna go straight to the UK number one...
A momentary lapse of concentration from reading about property rights for spouses and cohabitants (the only boring bit of family law so far, in an entire year's worth of lectures and supervisions) has resulted in my watching about five wasps desperately try to escape my room. I've got all my windows open since it's such a nice day, and boy are those wasps stupid. Glass just fools them. It's funny.
Excellent quote in the letters section of last month's Scientific American from Luke Soiseth, recalling and Emo Phillips quote: "Emo Phillips once said: "I used to think the brain was the most important organ in the body, until I realized who was telling me that."
Those of you who've been seeing bad html around my goldfish (top left of the page, for the goldfish-blind) -- white lines cutting up said fish, shouldn't be seeing them anymore. I've fixed it. Sorry it took so long...
Why is it that I can't find television adverts to download over the web? You'd think that companies would be falling over themselves to let me download copies of their adverts to my computer so I could watch them again and again and again...
But, good mother of God, there is a website that'll tell you what music/voiceover is in an advert you just watched...
I didn't look at the title, so was trying to guess how old this interview with David Pritchard from Macromedia Europe was. I guessed about '94, so I wasn't that far off.
xrefer.com is a cross-referencing engine built on the web, integrating a whole load of published works to provide what promises to be an absolutely amazing search engine. They are accepting beta-test applications.
Simon Waldman, head of the Guardan Unlimited network, The Guardian group's online presence, is incredibly critical of News International's Internet Division, News Network. You'd think that with brands such as The Sun and The Times, they really could do better, but no. News Network really is that crap - and Waldman is entirely justified in his analysis. Bit of sucking up to The Register, though...
There's a lot of controversy in the UK over the completely "bungled" handling of the car manufacturer sell offs and closures of Ford and Rover. Yesterday's article in The Times by Anatole Kaletsky seems to pretty much hit the nail on the head. In the big scale of things, and in such a dynamic economy as the one we find ourselves in at the moment, it only matters that more productive jobs are created in the long run:
"The hallmark of a dynamic capitalist economy is what the Austrian economist Josef Schumpeter described as "creative destruction". Ultimately, what matters is that the jobs and businesses created are on balance more numerous and more productive than the ones destroyed. In the past five to seven years, Britain has passed that test more successfully than any other major economy in Europe."
I can't say how much I disagree with Chris Emery, who wrote into the Guardian's Online (IT supplement) Feedback section. What did he say that annoyed me? "I do not see why mouse navigation is set as standard. I am sure that use of function keys could be added to sites as well as mouse use. This would make web TV surfing easier, and I personally prefer not using the mouse on my Windows system, as I find keyboard navigation easier. I doubt that using a mouse on your lap while trying to read a web page on TV would be a rewarding experience.". What sites does this guy visit? Try navigating through sites with just the tab key and you'd start to go mad. And making sites easily navigable with a tab key would result in you having to drill down how many levels?
There's a great quote in today's Wrap from the Guardian, about Heseltine's intention to leave the Commons: "True, he stabbed Mrs Thatcher, the Telegraph comments, but at least he stabbed her in the front." Hilarious!
I never thought that I'd seriously be thinking of applying for a policy position in this organisation... Well, I'm going to an ethnic minority fast-track civil service talk on Wednesday, so this should be interesting... The job sounds cool, though.
We played a bit of frisbee today. It all went a bit weird after we went into Dave C's room and started playing basketball with an inflatable ball. Lydia deflated it, so we resorted to playing basketball with a beanbag Gromit, of Wallace and Gromit fame. Of course, it didn't take long until we were soon playing Gromit-ball, a curious game in which you use tennis, squash and badminton rackets to hit Gromit into a basketball hoop. And from there, it was naturally a short leap to move to going outside to play frisbee. We went out at about half eleven, and only just got in at one in the morning. We have to do this more often...
Can anyone tell me why when I do a search for www-stu (or, for that matter, doozer)on weblogs.com -- normally a good way to find out which blogs are linking to mine as Doozer's address starts http://www-stu -- I get a result for Dark Currents?
Hell, being in space isn't all it's cracked up to be if there's no Mercy Point to back you up when you pass out. Worried about the state of the NHS in the UK? Think you pay too much for healthcare in the US? Well New Scientist covers the the growing concern over inadequate healthcare facilities - in orbit.
Well, now that we've established that we're not heading for a big crunch, I've got heat death to look forward to in as many billion years... Yay. Oh, PS. The universe isn't flat (BBC News). I know this is a little late, but hey...
So now that the average paid for a third generation mobile licence has picked up to about four billion pounds each, how much money are the network operators going to have left to actually build the network?
A google search on Ian Rankin for the Inspector Rebus series of crime fiction turned up this Ian Rankin Web site - I'd recently read Black and Blue and I picked up a copy of The Black Book today from WH Smith. That's my time gone out the window, then.
The Times article on restricting young children's exposure to computers is pretty much a recital of common sense, but dressed up to be, well, this is The Times, after all, (too many commas) pretty posturing and conservative.
Good one for Spice Girl Mel C as she hits back at tabloid accusations that she's "put on weight" - saying "This sort of thing is so irresponsible. It can have a lasting effect on people, especially when they are at an impressionable age".
We covered this under Criminal law, but the issue has come up again through the Martin case - Judges really do need discretion when the defendant is charged with murder, since it is rapidly becoming obvious that a mandatory life sentence without judicial discretion is not the best way to approach the problem.
More "work" today. I seem to be getting distracted quite easily, so I might just ship out and spend days on end in the library. Like everyone else. Apparently, the college library has been packed out since last week, so it looks like the wonderful law library for me... This morning I hacked together a bookmarklet script so that staff can submit the website of the week to the site more easily. Inspiration from Blogger, of course...
Yesterday, for the uninitiated. Well, since I pulled a three-o'clock last night doing something rather stupid with ASP, I only managed to get up at about half ten. I had a tutor interview at quarter past midday, which turned out to be as useful as they always tended to be. I looked at some textbooks. I checked out a potential summer internship, and then downloaded an IMAP client for my housemates to use to check their email. And then we went to dinner. Life doesn't get much more fun-filled than this.
Okay, so I spent ages reorganising my college room last night at the behest of my housemates. Julie'd been complaining that my room looked exactly the same as it did last term, where everyone else had introduced subtle changes to their rooms -- throws, lemurs (yes, lemurs), and even the odd millenium baby. So I moved everything around. The problem is that it's glaringly obvious that my room needs a sofa now, and it's not fair that everyone else has got one and I don't...
Sorry. That's just me complaining at the injustice of it all. At least I've got a sink, though...
More on the beleagured Tory party from the Guardian as Hague plans to, well, be more populist following the Martin Trial. Best quote: "To announce such a major policy within days of a court case will also lead to criticism that Mr Hague's circle have few ideas of their own and are happy to follow the latest fad.". Yeah. Pretty much.
No! Of course we're not holding back on ADSL development in the UK, cries BT. That's why we're pricing it a ridiculously high rate, you see, because we know how important it is to a developing economy. That's why it's going to cost £39.99 per month (US$64), and £150.00 to install (US$240). Oh, and while we're at it, who needs 2mbs speed, anyway? 512kbps is just fine. BT's current advertising push is You Can. Well, they've firmly demonstrated that You Can squeeze as much money out of a captive market for ADSL.
The Times has a feature on Kevin and Perry, the two stereotypical British teenagers who now have a film of their own. The devilish spawn of Enfield and Burke, these two characters have been poking fun at teenagers for the last few years here in the UK.
Okay, I was up until three last night trying to remember how to do stuff in ASP for my old school's Student Intranet that I helped build about a year ago. For those who care, subject link submissions now automatically create a news item for the front page. I bet you all understood that.
I just spent an hour going through some ASP code for my old school intranet that I helped build. I haven't done this kind of thing in ages, but it sure felt good when I got the thing working. For those who care, I tied the subject-link database mechanism to the news mechanism so new links are automatically put up on the front page. A feature that should've been there ages ago, but I only just got round to doing it. Not live yet, I don't trust my own code as far as I can throw it...
One issue about adoption is the fact that it looks like the UK government would dearly love to make sure they know who's going to become parents. Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many checks on adopters and IVF patients.
FilmUnlimited (guess where links are coming from today) interviews Stephen Frears, director of High Fidelity. Frears doesn't like English films: "England is all they're ever about, and if they're not, they're even worse. This country is just not a very interesting subject. It's terribly limited."
Ballet school - scarier than a horror movie - FilmUnlimited interviews Neve Campbell. Bizarre quote: "Without make-up, Campbell is freckled and studenty, pretty in an unobtrusive way and prone to an earnest frown that comes from a determination to see things positively." Exactly what does studenty look like? Not wearing makeup?
Having not been to the filmunlimited site much, I like the way they do their stuff: links to both the Guardian and Observer reviews, links to related stories and how well/badly the film was reviewed in other papers. Anyways, here's Kevin & Perry Go Large, which is on our go-see-it list.
If you were going to build a brand new athletics stadium, say, next to an incinerator, would you expect to damage participants' health? Of course you would. That's what makes this story so tragic (Guardian).
Best sentence in the Independent film reviews section is about Pokemon - The First Movie: "Pokémon – The First Movie – and that, incidentally, is the most depressing use of the word "first" in cinema history".
The Independent wonders why Americans like the film version of High Fidelity so much...and right in the first paragraph is the giveaway: "The big surprise is that the American version is even better than the novel.".
That's what I love about the law. Once you think that you've learnt it, someone has to go and change it - the UK government is considering a sperm donation register to allow offspring to trace their parents (The Independent). That said, this was a really interesting topic when we covered it in the autumn term.
Argh. I really should be getting more sleep, or alternatively, not going to bed at around four in the morning. Everyone is now back in our house ready for the start of term now, with Julie, Laura and Natalie arriving yesterday and Dave B arriving next door as well.
I've just started reading Peter Hoeg's Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, so Eleven Seconds's Peter Hoeg have come at an opportune moment. Everyone who's passed through my room so far has picked up the book and told me I should read it.
I've got unmetered access working! Okay, so it didn't take me too long. I just couldn't let it lie. See? One side effect though, and I don't know if it's just my isp, but accessing www.blogger.com returns a blank page. It's as if someone's deleted the site. ex.blogger.com, however, works. I don't know if I'm supposed to be updating via ex.blogger, but hey, I needed a fix.
I've just arrived back in Cambridge, and dicovered the schedule for my year two exams. I've got Contract, Land and International law on the 30th May to the 1st June, followed by Family Law and Legal History on the 8th and 9th June.
What this means is that I have about five weeks of intense revision to do. I'm not going to be able to blog since, well, I've got more important things to be doing (shock horror!) I'll be updating, just not as frequently as I have been. The other reason why I won't be blogging so much is because I now don't have unmetered access at my computer and will be having to use faculty facilites to do blog updates. I guess I'll just have to write them on disk and then take them in or something.
Upshot? I'm going to be gone for a while (if you want to call that an upshot). There will still be interesting stuff here, just not as much. That means please still come and visit, because my reward in seven weeks time is as much blogging as I can do without passing out, so hey, there's an incentive for me to be good right now.
As it currently stands, I think that the blog entries for the next five weeks or so are more likely to be journal-style than blog style. While I don't necessarily have the time (or money) to go out scavenging for interesting links for you all, I do, for some reason, have the time to sit down for about five minutes and write about whatever's on my mind. Like now, for instance.
It might not be short and to the point, but it'll be something. I hope you come by and visit.
One of the things I mentioned above is that I don't currently have unmetered access in the room that I'm living. This is a bad thing. I've actually got a CD in front of me that will let me have unmetered access, it's just that the damn thing doesn't run under Windows 2000, and every attempt by me so far to get the thing working has resulted in something resembling more or less dismal failure. I can't do it. Short of installing Windows 98, I can't do it at all. I'll probably end up installing the software on a friend's 98 box and see if we can clone the settings.
That said, if I don't have unmetered access, I'm sure I'd get much more work done...
I'm also feeling pretty good because I got an essay back from my International Law supervisor in which I think I got a first. If not, I've got the impression that I did pretty well. Anyways, here's the closing statement of the essay for posterity:
International Law Essay, Acqusition of Title The Traditional methods of acqusition of title to territory are far less important than textbooks suggest. Far more turns on which of the rival claimants to a piece of territory has exercised effective control over that territory
[conclusion] ... since both occupation and prescription are at root based upon the notion of effective possession, the main thread running through both modes is that of effective control. In the current international climate favouring stability, it is esay to see that such a doctrine as effective control is conducive to such a goal. Through effective control, an element of preserving the status quo is retained, mitigating the occurence of sudden unanticipated change through acquisition of title.
Heavy, huh? Anyway, it made me happy. See? I can do Law!
Yay! Digital Swirlee mentions Doozer: "I really really like this blog -- beautiful design, quality content. Yum. Now if only I knew what a "Doozer" is.", along with Bits&Pieces: "Mmm is right. What a great-looking weblog.".
Today's picks from this week's issue of New Scientist: regulars will know how I feel about creation "science" (did the quote marks give it away?), so here's a story on the frightening and growing trend, along with another example of nature inspiring scientists.
Bizarre thought. If you could work out the range of (say) blue and orange colours in hex, do a search for them in the source of blogs through something like weblogs.com, then you could count all the orange and blue blogs. In fact, you could categorise blogs by their colour. Now that'd be cool. Pointless, but cool. Hey, aren't most cool things pointless?
Julie and Dave C were proclaimed inaugral winners of the Times 2 Crossword Competition today (okay, the winners were proclaimed by Julie herself, but that's merely an aside), with me getting a "special mention as best runner-up!", i.e. I was the only runner up... When we all get back to Cambridge, I'm gonna kick their ass at them thar crossword... Sorry. Don't know what came over me.
Okay, a brief story about cereal. Yeah. Cereal. I had a talk with Mary, I think it was on the way to a movie or something, and due to the rather sporadic and rambling nature of my brain and the way stream of consciousness sometimes takes charge of the bit of my head that looks after the sounds that come out of my mouth (or, for that matter, the words that get typed on a keyboard), we got on to the topic of kids' cereal.
You see, I thought I'd grown out of kids' cereal before I left for uni. I'd been switched to that kind of healthy bran and yoghurt stuff, or at least fruit and fibre. That kind of thing. With lots of raisins (for the sugar, you see. I still need the sugar). Anyways, by the time I got to university, it seemed as if everyone had regressed. People who would be fine having just plain bran flakes started desperately craving Frosties or Ricicles or any such kids' cereal (hell, here's a link to Kelloggs).
So again this year, in my second year at university, the whole you're twenty but you're eating kids' cereal debate came up again. The average age of my housemates must be about twenty by now, with Adam being the oldest at twenty one. He eats Frosties. In fact, I eat them as well now. A few of the girls go for Nestle Cheerios. I think Natalie must be the healthiest cereal eater.
Anyways. Mary's theory was that once you get away to uni, you're allowed to be as childish as you want in your choice of cereal.
PS. This post was in part inspired by [[name coming soon]], a thoroughly excellent blog, with the wonderful premise of being a blog about the daily existence of a college student (description from Blogger). I think blogs like that are going to catch on. Big style.
According to weblogs.com, five blogs have the phrase "dreamer-minstrel" in them, thanks to the Kingdomality personality test. Make that six. I just got dreamer-minstrel as well... what is this saying about bloggers?
Okay. While watching Blue Peter this afternoon (I admit it, I'm a bored and lazy student), I saw the report on Simon taking part in the London Marathon. And from my (admittedly comfortable) vantage point sprawled on the sofa, I actually considered taking part in the marathon before I die.
Actually, I think the actual taking part will be the cause of my death...
Want a good school for your kids and live in the UK? Got a bit of money? Then you'd probably send them to a private school. Want a good prison for your darling kids to go to? Then you'll probably want to send them to a private prison as well - it's the best! (The Times).
So again, for all the classless Labour party posturing, the best schools are still the private ones... and the best prisons are the private ones. There we go. Wonderful. I find this a little funny...
One thing that I really don't like about Windows 2000 so far (the rest of the experience has been quietly, unobtrusively pleasing): the fact that before I installed the recent March/'February fixes, I could play MPEG1 movies back fullscreen at 1024x7768 no problems in 32bit colour. They looked great. No skipped frames at all. However, something happened on Sunday that means I can no longer do that without dropping down to 16bit colour.
I think I've narrowed it down to the servicepack-like-fix that I installed on Sunday, but which cunningly came with no uninstall option.
The reason why I spent fifteen minutes trying to find the TV show The 10th Kingdom last night and failed dismally was because I searched for Ten Kingdoms... regardless, the series has now started on UK digital tv channel Sky One, and the pilot looked pretty good...
BT, the UK's favourite telco, has managed to get itself into hot water again for not getting the net. Actually, what I suspect is that BT does in fact get the net, they just want to squeeze as much money as possible out of its consumers. Which it's doing admirably. The pressure's on though: not only are rivals saying that BT is holding back the development and rollout of xDSL based technologies in the UK, OFTEL, the UK telecommunications watchdog today slammed BT for anti-competitive behaviour concerning its unmetered internet access package (ZDNet UK).
One of the nicest things about summer term in Cambridge is that once the horror of exams is over, you get to generally mess about and have a fun time.
Things to do after exams have finished:
Punting (google), which is kinda like a gondala, a little boat and a big long stick. Especially fun if you bring a super soaker and shoot at targets such as ducks (shoot to miss, please, they get annoyed if you hit them), and tourists (shoot to kill).
Um, what else... join a tourist group and heckle. Hell, we like doing it. Anyway, tourists in Cambridge always ask silly questions.
Oooh. Barbecues. Now they're cool. Will be having lots of those...
Anybody who's read or seen the film High Fidelity will know how nice it is to make music compilations for friends. So I find it a great comfort that whenever Mary gets into my car, I usually end up giving the tape that's in there to her. So far, she's had about three compilation tapes and one cd made for her.
I like making them. It's nice putting together collections of music for other people...
Anyway, she leaves for Durham tomorrow, so the next time I get to see her is about the 20th June for my college ball. Which should be fun.
Question one of the pub quiz tonight: Which country would you not want to be in if you were a white farmer? answer.
A good turnout for the quiz tonight. I brought Mary and her brother along, along with my own brother and one of his friends. I think we came about equal fourth or something with a score of 44, but we really could have done better. Oh well. At least now we know that Seat name its cars all after cities in its country.
The whole bring-your-younger-sibling-to-the-pub thing was started by Pete and Vicky when they started bringing their respective brothers and sisters, carried on by me tonight and also by Mary who brought her brother Chris.
It's weird seeing them around. They're so much younger than us, but at the same time going to university this year, so they can't be that old. I guess they just seem young to us because we've known them, well, forever.
While having lunch at Tate Liverpool with Mary today, our conversation wound on to the topic of teen pregnancy. After idly flicking through TV yesterday, I saw an episode of the Maury Povich show where 12 year old girls were castigated for wanting to have babies.
And then I remembered the story about Professor John Guillebaud who advocated that contraceptive implants be inserted as a matter of "social" policy in high risk teenage pregnancy areas.
We ended up agreeing with him.
You've got two arguments for disagreeing with him, really. One is that you're taking away the right of the teenage girls to make an informed choice by forcing the contraception upon them. The other is if you happen to be against that kind of contraception in the first place (the story mentions that an anti abortion group called for the Professor to be arrested for promoting under-age sex).
I don't know if I'm a bit harsh here, but I definitely see his point. You have an area, an extremely high risk area, of teen pregnancies. Accept the fact that the majority of those pregnancies are unwanted or unplanned and the victim of difficult circumstances, which, let's face it, they probably are. In which case, your aim of accomplishing a lower pregnancy rate is accomplished.
And anyway, if we're being realistic, if these kids are going to have sex, you're not really going to be able to stop them. No amount of in-school education is going to change what happens out of school. Such an implant won't encourage under-age sex on a large scale, in fact, I've the feeling that it wouldn't particularly encourage it at all. If they will, they will.
That said, I completely respect the principle of individual autonomy. At the same time, though the law doesn't necessarily recognise the autonomy of minors. Furthermore, the law doesn't necessarily recognise autonomy, in this country, at least, when it deems your behaviour repugnant or not conducive to the good of the rest of society.
We covered a criminal case called Brown as part of our first year in both criminal and constitutional law courses. The case involved a number of sado-masochistic homosexual men who utterly by chance happened to be caught by the police after a video was found. What they did, they did very carefully. Any instrument they used was sterilised, any wounds were dressed and treated. In fact, their general level of health was admirable. They just happened to be homosexual sado-masochists. But when the case got to the House of Lords, their behaviour was deemed illegal. You're not allowed to be sado-masochistic, even if you consent to it. You're not allowed. Autonomy goes out the window.
I have a feeling I had a point, but am becoming increasingly concerned that I've just completely lost it...
Anyway, make up your own minds. A wonderfully controversial subject...
NASA and National Cancer Institute sign a Nano-Technology Agreement, agreeing to develop the technology for healthcare purposes. Cool. I just hope they can handle the press right. I can imagine tabloid headlines now:
NASA to develop tiny machines inside your body shocker!
Anyone who knows me, in particular Adam, and Dave B, will know that my computer's called Huygens. And everyone who's ever found that it's called Huygens has asked why. Well, here's the answer - Huygens is an ESA made probe for exploring Titan, and it has a pretty cool name. So there you go. Geeky enough?
If I'd heard the Black Box Recorder song Facts of Life about five years ago, it'd probably have sent me into a pit of depression and I'd listen to it all the time on single track repeat:
A boy sits by the telephone wanting to call a girl but not daring to because she might say no at last he summons up the courage phones her and discovers someone else has asked her first and she said yes now's the time to deal with the fear of being rejected, no one gets through life without being hurt at this point the boy who's listening to this song is probably saying that it's easier said than done and it's true
See? I mean how much does that cry of "teen angst" to you?
The fact that I'm not listening to the song on single track repeat and that it doesn't send me into paroxysms of despair is probably a good thing. I'm listening to it because it's a good track with a great line. And also because I can smile and think it's ironic.
This is good. It makes me feel better about myself.
Okay, a great night out with friends. Phil has come back for a week from his year out working for Unilever in Bedford, and it was great seeing him for the first time since Christmas.
We (Bobobob, our pub quiz team) came second in the music quiz! Reasonably good on the Queen round, stormed the nineties round, but fell down by not failing to remember Was Not Was, did alright in the seventies round and managed to keep it up for the eighties.
I think I try to hard too be funny. It probably grates. I'm going to work on that.
Call to UK readers: has anyone seen the current Boots commercial for invigorating, um, shampoos and stuff featuring lots of slow-motion jumping women? Yeah? Okay, does anyone know what the music is? Who it's by? Maybe where I can nab the mp3/buy the cd?
Okay, I did something really interesting yesterday. It was thrilling. It was, as they say, armchair-gripping stuff, if it was a TV programme, it would have been labelled must-watch and a few million people would have set their VCRs (to the right channel as well...)
I bought a new iron and kettle.
Yep, that's what the communications revolution lets me do. It lets me let you, dear reader, know that I've bought a new iron and kettle. I might as well supply some background story as well...
I need them.
Enough? Nah, didn't think so. I need an iron because, well, I don't have one at college and I'm going back there in six days (and besides, Daniella, Julie, Natalie or Laura always end up lending theirs to Adam and me). I don't necessarily need a new kettle, but I kinda like those cordless ones, seeing as the one I've got is a crappy travel one.
So, I got one of these (the iron). Though I suspect with that kind of colour scheme you'd really want to be calling it an iRon. Hah.
Oh, and the kettle? Well, there was a great translucent blue one of those as well, but it fell into the heinous design category flaw of not having the "boil" switch under your thumb as you pick it up.
Um... something's up with blogger and my site. They're not talking to each other. No big deal. Anyway, don't you hate it when you tape something overnight, wake up the next day and find out you've set the vcr to the wrong channel?
I caught a new show on BBC Choice tonight - Good Evening Rockall, a bizarre cross between the Nine O'Clock news, Have I Got News For You and The Eleven O'Clock Show (though substantially funnier than the Eleven O'Clock show). Funny. Good. Excellent titles.
How could the UK government possibly say no to hundreds of children asking for a ban on physical punishment? Kids sure are politically savvy these days. To think I said kids were apathetic these days, as well...
If, along with the rest of the world, you've been wondering where Billie Piper has been for the last year, then you can rest assured that she's been busy reinventing herself as a better Britney than Britney. With the video for her new single Day & Night, Britney stands no chance at all, even with a school uniform. Yay for the Brits.
I have two things to say about the preview release of Netscape 6: Buggy and Fast. Buggy, because it crashed three times on the initial "register Netscape" screen that it throws up. Fast, because, well, it is. Damn fast. Amazingly fast. Oh, one more thing. I don't like the way it looks. But I guess that's okay, because it's a skinnable browser...
And what's the deal with the RAM requirements? I've got the Blogger edit my blog page open with the preview release, and Taskman reckons netscp6.exe is feasting on 18,852k? Isn't that rather a lot? I suppose it is a preview release...
Drivers suck. They sucked under Windows, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, sucked less under Windows 98, but suck bigtime in Windows 2000. Example?
We used to have a modem. It was a nippy ISA PnP US Robotics Sportster 33600 that came preinstalled with our home workstation (itself a nippy Dell number), and was subsequently upgraded to 56k (v.90) compatibility. That was fine. Worked fine under Windows 98, we got about 46k connectivity, which isn't too bad, considering line conditions.
So, what happens when you upgrade to Windows 2000? Well, you get a maximum connect speed of 33.6k. It autodetects the modem as a 3Com WinModem TI, and stubbornly refuses to accept anything else. Taking this (over two weeks later), as a sign from the Gods that it's finally time to upgrade, I spec a PCI PnP 3Com 56k Voice modem in the hope that maybe it'll work a tiny bit quicker.
Like that was ever going to happen. The thing arrived today, I installed it, and... our connect speed is up from 33.6 to... 38.2! Wonderful! I'm beside myself with joy! It's not a hardware problem, because the damn thing connects at at least 42.6 under Windows 98.
And then there's the drivers for our combined firewire/scsi card...
Microsoft, well known for doing stupid things, has admitted to planting a back door in its FrontPage98 server extensions, allowing access to server administrator functions. Last time I had any experience with FrontPage, it was at my old school about two and a half years ago:
"So, do we want to install FrontPage server extensions?" - Chris D (we both look at each other and laugh) "Yeah, right." - Me. And click no.
let me be the one you call if you jump i'll break your fall lift you up and fly away with you into the night if you need to fall apart i can mend a broken heart if you need to crash then crash and burn, you're not alone
I've been watching 7Up 2000 (and have been trying to find the website, there seems to be no mention of it at all at the BBC), as should everyone in the UK at the moment. And if you're not in the UK, try and get hold of a copy. In the sixties, a documentary was started called 7Up, charting the lives of seven year old children, intended to be representative of Britain. The documentary returned to the children through the course of their lives, in seven year intervals, with the project finishing in the year 2000. The BBC has now started its own 7Up, entitled 7Up 2000, following nineteen seven year olds, the first programme of which was shown tonight.
A number of differences between the new series and the old were pointed out by reviewers: of the nineteen children, a high proportion are in single parent families. The programme also reflects the ethnically diverse nature of Britain now, with Romanian, Jamaican and Muslim children. All the children come from a wide range of social classes. One boy has cerebal palsy.
There's been some great quotes as well: to the question "who runs Britain?", the answers ranged from "The Queen of London", to "God, who is the King of the World." Quite a few of the kids have got boyfriends or girlfriends, though one boy, when responding to the question "do you have a girlfriend?" said "what do you take me for? Why are you so rude?"
The next time 7Up 2000 visits these children, they'll be fourteen, four years away from being able to vote. I can't wait.
The Times: London gets its own Bladerunners, that is, police on rollerblades. PC Janice Jarvis is now being trained by the British In-Line Skating Association in the art of grabbing hold of suspects and staying upright at the same time. Great to see that the Police have got a sense of humour and also get to innovate as well... Excellent picture as well:
Via Rachlog, a great journal site and associated weblog. Today's journal entry: "do you ever fear that the person you love will stop loving you? i have this fear all the time. why does she like me? is it the way i smell, touch, or speak? pheromones? am i just lucky"
Boy can I empathise.
Why is the fact that Monica Lewinsky lost her job considered news? Do I know her? No. Do I care that she's lost her job? No. Do other people care? Well, obviously, some do otherwise it wouldn't have been considered newsworthy. Well, to those people who read that story because they're interested - what the hell are you doing? Why do you care? Go find something interesting to do. I bet you're the same people who mourned Diana when she died, railed at the press and paparrazi and then bought the magazine specials. Hypocrites.
Great quote on BBC News from Hansie Cronje, the disgraced cricketer: "I always played to win". His definition, of "win" then, would involve the reception of about US$15,000. Of course, he wouldn't put it in his bank account. No. That'd make it too obvious.
According to The Register, Apple is considering licensing Mac OSX to Wintel vendors. Whether The Register is to be trusted on this one is entirely open to question, since The Register is quite happy to mix rumour, fact and fiction all together into the same bowl of reporting without differentiating between them. Regardless, if Apple are doing this, then it's a good thing...
A nice email correction from Hal O'Brien about my August 27th entry in the 1999 Edinburgh Festival weblog: "Imbruglia's version is actually a cover. The original group who sang and wrote "Torn" was a Boston, Mass, group called Ednaswap. Not a big deal, I know, but what can I say, I'm just a little bundle of anti-entropy." -- so there you go. Learn something new every day!
So, sat in the pub, and we decided we need an excuse for a really big party. A really big one. Like we used to have when we turned eighteen. With hundreds of people. Then, we worked out we don't know enough to invite hundreds of people, because eighteenth birthday parties tend to be "invite everyone in your year at school" events. So, someone needs to get married. I don't even want to think about getting married. Text to Chris P today:
"It's a crap day at work." - Chris "I've got cold feet." - Me "What, figuratively or literally?" "Well, literally, cos they're bloody freezing, and figuratively, cos I'm not too sure about marriage."
Maybe they'll have abolished marriage by the time I'm thirty...
This week's pick of New Scientist stories: another opening for wormholes in interstellar travel (also covered by BBC News), Apoorva Patel puts forward the idea of quantum computing in biology and damn fast planes.
My group of friends seems to have a thing about pub quizzes. We missed last night at the Black Horse (which is a rare, if not altogether impossible occurrence), but when we turned up at the Railway today, they sprang a quiz on us there. Forced into taking part...
What the hell does "susceptibility" mean in the Physical/Environmental technical specification of the Netbook? Susceptibility to what? Spontaneous combustion? Total probability failure? Or, even, EN50024?
Is it just me, or does listening to the theme from Wayne's World have something inherently early nineties about it? (You can tell someone's just ripped his Wayne's World soundtrack CD). I bought it for Bohemian Rhapsody, okay?
So, I'm putting together a submission for The Guardian's Online section, and I need to find the email address of the appropriate section editor. I dig out the address of the person at the Guardian that I've been in contact with about summer internship schemes, and ask them whether I could have the section editor's address. They give me the snail mail address. Of the Online section. So now, I have to write to this guy, and then wait for him to email me back? I'm sure there's something wrong with this...
BBC Knowledge, the digital "learning" channel has relaunched, and a good thing too. Previously, it used to show channel trailers from nine in the morning until about five in the evening and would then show archived schools' programmes. Now it's striped across seven days covering art, business, life, langues, children's, science and history. And the station idents! There's one that shows footage of a London train station with a voiceover from 1939 describing the evacuation of the children into the countryside and at the end the caption comes up "In one weekend in 1939, one quarter of the British population had changed its address". Nice to see the Beeb hasn't lost its sense of style.
The nicest thing about Outlook 2000 is that it recognises imap mail properly now, as opposed to being half-assed aware of it in Outook 98. I can set up a rule to copy imap mail into my local inbox now and it plays a nice sound. And before you rip into me for using Outlook over, say, a non-Microsoft mail client (I used to use Mulberry and Netscape Mail for a while), I use Outlook because it looks after my calendar, addresses and notes and squirts it all into my Palm iiie. Basically, I'm happy because I get a "dingdong" sound when I get mail now. The simple things, right?
Although giving kids free laptops might be an "enabler", I'm sure diverting money to buildings resources for school funds would be a much better idea. Or just to hiring more teachers. What use is a laptop if the kids don't have textbooks or a class to be taught in?
Bloody hell - pupils suspended over cops and robbers game. Gist of the story: "The children in the kindergarten class at Wilson School, Sayreville, New Jersey, were given three-day suspensions for making pretend guns with their fingers - which were interpreted as unacceptable threats". Remember kids, guns don't kill people, fingers kill people. Enough is enough - can't we let kids have fun anymore? Get a sense of proportion!
Via The Guardian's columnist Andrew Marr, another article examining the Internet's social consequences. Excellent quote from the chairman of Winterflood Securities 'This is the IT world for you. You drop your calculator and the battery falls out and suddenly you haven't got a brain.' The losers of the net-revolution? Lower-middle-class, home-owning, service-sector workers.
Guardian columnist Gary Younge writes today that British student campus culture is dead, lamenting the fact that students don't seem to be politically active anymore. I know it's not the real point of his article, but if you want apathetic, you've got it in buckets on campus. Sure, there's always that incredibly vocal minority, but it's the vast majority who tend to be quite liberal and centrist, yet for some reason don't actually do anything about it. Which is when my college decided to have a referendum on whether the university's cadet force / OTC should be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals, we all walked around and said "of course they shouldn't" and failed to vote. As a result, my college was one of about five that decided that it was okay to discriminate (fortunately, the final decision from the university students' union was the opposite.
The problem is this: we'd love to change the world. We just can't be bothered. It won't make any difference. We could try, but we've grown up far too quickly and aren't young and idealistic enough anymore. We live in a consumer-driven world where it's pointless to stand up because there's yet another monolithic corporation.
God, that felt incredibly self-righteous. (Not me at all.)
Slashdot's article on digital video editing is kinda cool. I still have some tapes from about two/three years ago when I was mucking around with Premiere 5 and a DV cam... oh, happy days. I desperately want one of those tiny handheld Sony models. Cool. Wonder how much a second hand one costs in Japan?
The Times, alleging that British universities are wasting top talent, points out that "the chances of working-class children from poor areas winning a place at one of Britain's leading universities are less than one in 100." What the Times doesn't say is how many pupils from state schools apply to the top universities, and whether they are encouraged by the schools to do so. Because from what I've seen, they aren't. One of the teachers at my old school took it upon himself to encourage students to apply to Oxbridge in the firm belief that as many as possible should at least try. That's the kind of approach that needs to be taken.
Bill Joy in his Salon article looks like a happy guy, which is hard to square with someone who's predicting doom unless we do something pretty damn quick. I'm starting to agree with what he's been saying, though: have we really grown up enough to be able to play with all these new toys we keep inventing?
I know it's been four years since I properly went bowling, but if I admit that in the first game we played last night I managed to whack myself on my left ankle with a bowling ball to the extent that I now have a large, hideous purple splotch on it, that's not terribly good, is it?
JANET, the UK's Joint Academic Network has a page showing their peak traffic report for the previous day, since educational institutions are now billed for peak transatlantic usage. Total traffic from the US on the 8th April 2000 amounted to 740GB, with Cambridge University accounting for 19,090MB of that traffic. Yesterday's bill for Cambridge? £381.79.
Although the N50 is nice, I haven't really found a use for the user sensor yet--it doesn't seem to be that good, or the ambient light wherever I use it is just appalling. The display (and sound) keeps flicking on and off and I have to wave my hand in front of the sensor to get it back. Otherwise it would have been a great feature... Finally figured out what was up with the sound, too: tiny speck of metal resting in the bay was resonating. Picked it out with a bit of blu-tack on the end of a toothpick.
Okay, so now I remember how to bowl: badly. I still remember the glory days four years ago when I could get a score of 149 easily, but when I don't break one hundred, I get a bit upset. Lost the first game to Mary, won the second and came third in the third. Oh well, such is life. You either knock the pins down, or you don't. I'm sure there's a parable there, but I can't be bothered looking for it.
Anyone who refers to computers as wizardry and claims that the 'net is in danger of creating a society without a soul is quite clearly not with it at all, blatantly conservative and surprisingly fearful of change. In fact, pretty much everything we thought the church was. Let's face it: the 'net is helping people to communicate.
BBC News - Technology aids democracy - text-messaging power to the people! It turns out that the Filipino government is worried that the ease of text-message communication by mobile phone is helping to destabilise their administration.
Mary's leaving for Paris tomorrow for a week, so we're looking to do something fun tonight. It's been over four years since I last went bowling, and I can't even remember if you can call up and reserve a lane... Bowling. God, that takes you back to being fifteen...
BBC News asks if we rely too much on computers. Quote: "I have a laptop, WAP-enabled phone, a Palm PDA, a Gameboy and a minidisc player with me right now. I can send and receive phonecalls, email, faxes and text messages from anywhere in the world. But where do I store me phone numbers and to do lists? In my head, it's much more reliable... - Dave, UK"
The Register reporst that one of WindowsME's new features is the ability to restore crashed machines to their previous states. That'd be just before they crashed, so you can relive that "oh shit" moment for posterity, then.
Via IT Week: Flash now has a competitor - Adobe's Livemotion is being shipped this summer and uses the open .swf format. Now I guess we have a choice. Adobe really does want to be Macromedia, doesn't it...
Because of this Guardian story on mtDNA and Viking conquests that I pointed out to Mary (relevant because she's doing an anthropology degree), I went out and had an afternoon of detective work. Agnar Helgason works at Oxford University in their institute of biological anthropology, which must have the worst academic website that I've ever seen. No staff list, no nothing. Departmental research interests are listed, but they're of no use to me for this particular search. The university's press release section contains nothing on the story. So what now? Well, a trusty google search on Agnar Helgason's name, of course... All completely useless. The original Guardian article never mentioned a published paper. But fun, though (in a bizarre way).
After having installed all of Office 2000 Pro, I'm now suffering from new-feature-shock. I don't know what to do anymore. You really shouldn't be allowed to install 300 megs worth of office suite in one go. It's too much.
The Times article on "the other woman" (read as the mother in law) seems to suggest that you should really check out your partner's mother before you get married... or that you shouldn't get married at all...
The Times's Caitlin Moran has a hillarious explanation as to why she was addicted to watching the Jerry Springer Show. Apparently, it's something to do with not being old enough to have seen the JFK assassination on TV...
George Clooney to star and produce live drama landmark (BBC News). I don't normally like Clooney, since all he ever seems to do is just shrug in front of the camera lots in his trademark style, but Three Kings was pretty damn cool. Just seemed like a certain doctor had escaped from the ER to be called into active service, that's all...
I just got back from seeing Three Kings with Mary. Completely (more or less) spur of the moment thing - I called her sometime tonight and after talking for a while about the shocking amount of work that we still have to do for exams, we decided to do something tonight. So we went and saw Three Kings. Bloody hell (just looking at the website), the DVD's out already. Anyway. Three Kings. A great movie, even though it's got George Clooney in it. Wonderful shots of bullets (if you haven't seen it, go see it now), and you definitely learn one thing - we don't want any unnecessary shots, do we. Worth it for the cow/bull scene alone. And a happy ending, to boot. We also got to see the Scream Three trailer, the film of which comes out in the UK just as exams start. Great timing.
As the first 24 hour timeout is called in the UK mobile phone spectrum auctions (BBC News), New Scientist reports that frequencies freed up after the analogue TV transmission switch-off aren't as useful as hoped for mobile comms.
BBC News asks what went wrong yesterday at the London Stock Exchange, and has an amusing list of conspiracy theories. Most xenophobic? "Another proposed that the Germans were "trying to do to our financial services industry what they did to Rover".
If the Post-It note went through the UK education system, it'd be in the same academic year as me: happy 20th birthday to the Post-It note today (BBC News). Art Fry, the 3M employee who invented the world's favourite adhesive covered notepaper said of the note's ubiquity: "It's like having your children grow up and turn out to be happy and successful... When Post-its are still used after I am gone, it will be as if a part of me will live on forever."
The Times has a feature on encouraging kids to take up musical instruments. I got encouraged, and with hindsight absolutely loved it. Still don't like practising too much, though, but learning the 'cello has been one of the best things I've ever done.
More on the Kathleen Turner front. Or, rather, her front, back, sides and pretty much everything - BBC News reports on the West End play The Graduate. Unsurprisingly, 40,000 seats have already been sold for the play's 10 week run. Hugh Grant, in the BBC article comments "I have total respect. It's something I've never quite achieved myself - but I've often volunteered". That'd be along the same lines as "volunteering" on Sunset Boulevard, then, would it?
Though I don't normally like splash screens, the one for The Graduate is pretty good... (and funny)
In a rare example of government "getting it", a recent government report covered on BBC News pointed out that musicians and songwriters could lose millions of pounds unless the industry makes it easier to buy music legally over the internet. One of the main points of the report was that the government wants to make it easier for kids under 18 to be able to legally buy music online. Yay for small kids, but hey, isn't this "grab the kids and their pocket money" attitude kinda scary?
Another point: Pop Music Lecturer Simon Warner? There's a lecturership post in pop music? Sorry, got a bit carried away with the italics there.
This week's New Scientist covers body language as its main feature. Tip to bear in mind when talking to someone: "people use gestures to express notions that they are not consciously able to articulate--either because they don't understand them, or because they are painful or embarrassing".
If you liked Douglas Coupland's Microserfs, and you've got an afternoon to spare, then you could do worse than read through Salon's Silicon Follies, a high-tech soap opera serial. Incidentally, the audiobook of Microserfs is read by Matthew Perry. I, for one, am impressed.
Salon's article on The Blair baby project is not only wonderfully funny, but has a great quote from the baby her/himself: "Mummy says that's because it's unpaid leave and you would still get your salary. And Daddy says, "Yes, and what an outcry there would be then," and Mummy says, "Give it to charity or whatever you want, but I want you here with me even if you are a spineless wanker." Priceless!
Salon covers WAVE, a website that allows American high school students to report on each other if they suspect threatening behaviour (i.e., aimed at preventing another Columbine). Great. On the one hand (and this is only a small, newborn baby sized hand, in my opinion), it helps prevent such outbursts from occurring. But on the other, come on! These are kids we're talking about. And you're telling me they won't abuse the system... I reckon it's a safe bet to say that the scheme will do more harm than good. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that steps are being taken to tackle school violence, it's just that this seems to smack of an alarmist and reactionary tendency that I just find frightening. I'm very possibly with the ACLU on this one.
Do you think Wired has it right when they title their article Netscape 6: Does Anyone Care? I noticed over on slashdot that the prerelease was out, and then stopped short at downloading it. For some reason, I think I should be using Netscape out of principle, though. Oh, and probably because Cam's been going on about it for so long...
This scares me. The following message just appeared in my eventlog:"The computer has rebooted from a bugcheck. The bugcheck was: 0x0000001e (0xc0000005, 0xa010cf21, 0x00000000, 0x00000008). Microsoft Windows 2000 [v15.2195]. A dump was saved in: C:\WINNT\Minidump\Mini040500-01.dmp." All I do is go away to have dinner, and when I come back my computer's rebooted itself. Great. At least it does it when I'm not around.
It's unbelievable that the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy film is actually close to happening. So, I'll see it inside the next five years, then? I'll be in my mid-twenties. Old! Old, I tell you, old!
That Times story (below) on mobile phone hands free kits just pisses me off. Science reporting needs to be accurate, otherwise the public just aren't going to trust what's being put across. Furthermore, articles intended to calm scares don't work when they themselves are inaccurate. Anjana Ahuja is now on my hitlist of irritating, incorrect reporters.
The Times. Absolutely, emphatically wrong yet again: "However, for the unconvinced, hands-free kits seemed the perfect solution. These kits feature earpieces connected to the phone by a long cable, allowing the phone to be held away from the body. The kits convert the microwave signals into harmless electrical signals that can travel through the earpiece. This should theoretically reduce radiation reaching the head. " Handsfree kits do nothing of the sort. They just enable the user to have the arial further away from the head, they don't "convert" any EM radiation whatsoever. I'm seething.
BBC News reports that London share dealing resumes after a particularly bad systems crash cripples the trading system, and The Times chimes in with a guide to the stock market. I really don't like The Times anymore.
The Hannover Expo 2000 site is predominantly orange and blue. Like quite a lot of sites these days... I've never been to an expo. I remember the big thing about the Seville expo a few years back, but there's never been one near enough for me to get to.
Avantgo now squirts all 300kb worth of The Guardian onto my Palm iiie every morning now. A whole broadsheet newspaper in the palm of your hand! Now, if only the damn thing was readable for more than five minutes at a time without your eyes going all funny. Give it another two years. I love the relentless march of technology.
Quite irritatingly, blogger imposes a 7,600 character on posts, which means that this previous post got castrated/cropped. Not that I have anything against blogger because I love it/them to bits. I've just lost the rest of my post now.
That Toshiba Dynasheet hasn't been updated since 1996. So, just a few pointers: we've already got one gigahertz pcs. DVD drives are commonplace. What we haven't quite got are flexible polymer based colour displays. Cambridge Display Technologies, however, are working on them. Unroll a sheet of this stuff and you've got a full colour, low power display. As big as you want. Stephen Baxter talked about this kind of stuff in his novels as a softscreen--a flexible display with the electronics built in. We're not that far away anymore...
The Toshiba DynaSheet is one sweet notebook computer. MPEG-II videoconferencing, 1 gigahertz processor, 3.5 gigabyte optical hard disk, 512 MB memory, 4.7 gigabyte DVD drive, integrated radio interface to all popular network standards and online services. Size: A4. Depth: 0.5 cm. Weight: 120g. The price? Only 2,099 Euros. What's the catch? You have to wait until about 2006 to buy one...
Pay-as-you-surf WAP. Get this: "all WAP calls will be charged at a flat rate of 10p per minute, with voice calls costing 30p per minute peak and 5p per minute off-peak", via Cellnet's WAP service. Yeah, that makes sense. When the UK is finally moving towards unmetered access, that BT has finally admitted would foster net use, they jump right in their with mobile access and--guess what? Charge you by the second. Oh I'm so glad we have a benevolent telecomms monopoly.
When BT Internet asks me to install IP Insight, software that purports to "monitor each connection you make to BT Internet providing details to our servers about the quality and reliability of your connection", am I impressed by their committment to quality of service, or just plain scared that they want to monitor my connection?
My arseing, fecking, annoying isp BT Internet is so hideously bad that I can't change my blogger template, but can, for some reason, post. Timeouts are ten a penny, and you can forget pinging halfway across the world... The only saving grace is that they offer 0800 (unmetered) access in the evenings and the weekends. And that's a small saving grace, too.
A couple of quickies first: Thanks to prolific.org for linking to daily doozer, and I've hit upon a new colour for links (yellow), but since blogger is steadfastly refusing to allow me to update my template and my isp's connection to blogger is about as reliable as a British Army issue submachine gun, (scratch that, my isp's connection to anywhere bar a "server not found" message is pretty much non-existant) I can't do anything about it at the moment. Sorry.
For the record, I'd like to state that I am absolutely knackered after yesterday's trip to the lake district. Mary came over Friday night and we had a marathon Friends watching session and got through about three hours worth of season six (at least, I think it was season six. Whatever. The season that starts off with Ross and Rachel being married). We gave up at about midnight, I drove Mary home and then managed to get to sleep at about one.
And then got up at seven. By half past seven, I realised that I'd got up far too early, and instead printed out the maps from Autoroute and looked for things to blog. By eight o'clock, I'd given up and settled on cooking myself some scrambled eggs for breakfast (yeah, like you're all interested in what I had for breakfast Saturday morning) and somehow managed to while away the time before nine, whereupon I legged it to Safeway to pick up food for the trip. Turned up outside Mary's house at about half nine to pick her up--and then went back to Safeway to get some more food for lunch.
Three and a half hours after leaving West Kirby at about ten, we arrived at Lake Buttermere after having driven through some devastatingly gorgeous scenery (at some times at high speed, at others an irritatingly slow crawl). It's been a known fact amongst my friends that though I got my driving licence about two years ago, I actually started driving over Christmas, when I finally got my insurance sorted out. So Saturday's trip was a big one for me, and the second time I'd gone through the Liverpool tunnels as well. I have now learnt many things about driving:
Motorways are boring. They're dull. They're fine if you're sat in a passenger seat, or in the back and you've got music to listen to or scenery to stare at but, come on! Two hours of just going forwards at eighty miles an hour, and maybe doing a slight bend to the left or right every so often. I still haven't managed to master being able to pay enough attention to the scenery to be able to play I Spy and drive at the same time, either.
Some people drive too slowly. Especially on narrow, winding roads where you can't overtake them.
Some people drive too quickly. Especially on narrow, winding roads where you can't avoid them. And you have a two hundred foot sheer drop to your left.
I'd never driven up a 24% gradient slope until yesterday. It was hillarious: I was driving round hills in a Polo in first gear. Bizarre. I'd also never had to stop for a sheep (granted, I didn't actually stop for a sheep, they were just by the roadside). There was a small bird, though.
And the scenery! Gorgeous, gorgeous scenery. Mary'd decided to take us on a more circuitous and scenic route to the lake on the way there that involved the aforementioned 24% gradient and numerous mountain passes. I began to feel that if I'd been driving about ten or fifteen miles an hours faster and speaking very knowledgeably about cars and suspension, I'd be in a tv car advert. I felt like Jeremy Clarkson (albeit a slower version, in a less flashy car). How's that for automotive masculinity?
I fell over lots, too. Covered in mud. Got stuck in a marsh. Thought we'd never find the 172 foot waterfall we were supposed to, either, but we managed to find it in the end by cheating and asking the other walkers. Speaking of those other walkers, we felt incredibly underdressed and underprepared. We'd been walking for God knows how long until I realised that neither of us were carrying anything capable of telling the time (neither of us wearing watches, and we'd left our phones in the car since the likelihood of picking up network coverage on the top of a hill is on the remote side of remote). That, and we didn't have big sticks, which seem to be required if you're going walking. Then again, the sticks did seem to look like ski poles, so we were perpetually wondering whether it was going to snow or not. It was snowing in Scotland, so it wasn't completely unlikely.
The whole point of the day, though, didn't exactly happen. I'd counted on taking Mary up to the Lake District, having a great walk, coming back, having dinner and then talking about, well, whether anything was going on or not. Didn't happen. I just didn't feel like it, bottled it and besides, I was covered in mud and wasn't after the second time I'd managed to fall over (and lose my shoe, in the process). Rest assured it was very funny, and I saw myself as providing much needed comedy value. You want another excuse? By the time we'd [cropped. 7,600 character limit.]
I'm relieved that the future King of England can sing: "Young man, there's a place you can go. Prince William has represented Eton College in a karaoke contest by reviving a gay disco classic." (Sunday Times).
With all the farce surrounding the Sellafield reprocessing plant, is it becoming alarmingly obvious that Sellafield = Springfield Nuclear plant? The latest scandal involves four workers being sacked for forging entry passes (Sunday Times).
Time is running out for Microsoft--current reports are that settlement talks have failed again, and they have "as little as a week to come up with new concessions which could prevent the software giant being broken up." (BBC News). When will this ever end? And how much is it costing?
I'm very, very tired and I've just had about two cups of coffee to wake me up. A trip down to Safeway to pick up some bits and bobs for lunch, find the map and get stuff together and I'm out of here for half nine. Road trip to the Lake District! See you all tomorrow...
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