Header graphic - Sunset image  
Extenuating Circumstances
28 FEBRUARY 2001

Cups of tea: 3 (passable); essays written: 1.4 (quite good); Gbloggers met on HabboHotel: 4 (new people!); Curries: 1 (good)

Information Theory
Tom blogs signal-to-noise the day after Claude Shannon dies.

Dead Trees
Bought some new books, top of the reading section.

People are stupid. Get more people together, and they get more stupid. Universities clearly have not cottoned on to the right idea.

These people seem to like him.

3G Jobs [OxbridgeJobs]
Was really tempted to go along and ask how, if they couldn't afford to build the damn 3G networks, they were going to hire oodles of people and keep them on.

Look Stuff Up [Bartleyby]
Who are these people? I've never heard of them, but they've got shedloads of useful stuff online. Gray's sodding anatomy, for crying out loud!

27 FEBRUARY 2001

Cups of tea: 5 (um...); hours spent in habbohotel: .75 (also um...)

Rather Silly
Have come to the conclusion that the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory is actually that really big room in the X-Men movie.

This page now validates for css and html4.01. Course there's no handy validate-your-content checker, is there? Oh no.

Amusing story in today's G2: Moral: all the surveillance equipment in the world ain't going to put lawyers out of business.

One of my friends has been bought Dave Eggers's book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius [Guardian Review]. It looks like I'm going to pick a copy up at some point.

Here's a BooksUnlimited search on Eggers to get you going...

Crappy redesigns
Will someone please tell me that the Radio 1 website redesign is only half-finished? Beacuse it looks compeltely and utterly pants. The text-links on the left have been cuningly rendered as images, and why the sodding hell is there a huge expanse of white space on most pages?

Sorry for the inconvenience
But I want to buy stuff. I want to look at pretty pictures and appreciate Sony design. Not look at a goddamn "sorry we're closed" message.

Oxbridge Revisted
Found: how the Harvard Student Paper saw the Laura Spence Affair. Quote:

"The whole affair began when Spence, a "sixth former" (i.e. senior) at Monkseaton Community High School in Tyne & Wear, England, applied to five different colleges, including Oxford and Harvard. Well, not really. It actually began before that, when she grew up in Tyneside, a town in northeast England. Though the concept of severe regional distinction in a country no larger than Mississippi might seem strange to Americans, northeast England has a reputation. Sort of like the Mississippi of the U.K. "

RealityServer [reality.sgi.com]
Full of really old and quaint info.

26 FEBRUARY 2001

Panicked supervisions: 1 (bad); cups of tea: 5 (nice); RAG-related crises: innumerable (not my problem); people bumped-into in Sainsbury's: 2 (nice); attempts at seeing Hannibal/Traffic: 1 (progress)

I was idly sitting around and (for those who know me, this isn't out of the ordinary at all), wondered what exactly would happen when the characters from the TV show Friends hit thirty. Well, turns out, this happens, courtesy of the Complete Friends Script Archive.

Over the past few days I've been looking at:

(You)2 [Wired]
Interesting article on human reproductive cloning (relevant to seminar group), must remember to forward to interested parties.

Adult Stem Cell Research [Wired]
Turns out adult stem cells are more adaptable than people think, putting the pressure on embryonic stem cell research. Relevant to dissertation again.

Big Linux Farm [LinuxWorld]
Incyte [genome trolling patent generator] has big fuck-off linux farm (2000+ clients). Not really relevant to anything apart from funky biotech and lots of computers.

Review: Ericsson T20S [GSMBox]
Amusingly translated (possibly machine-translated) mobile phone reviews. Example: "The merits of this telephone must be looked for elsewhere, for instance in the good sensibility to the signal both in reception and in transmission, we can call also in areas of shadow even with just a nick." Check out the rest of the site.

What's the Point? [Seethru]
Didn't attachments end ages ago? Wasn't Seethru the site that accompanied the abysmal series? So why the hell are they updating the Seethru site?

Summer Project [CityStories]
Have decided that I want to make a CambridgeStories.com. Am sure it's only a matter of time before someone does LondonStories.com (Tom? Meg? Luke? DaveO? Jen?) That's something to do to while away the summer months...

Foot and Mouth in Pictures [BBC News]
Does what it says on the tin. Ahem.

24 FEBRUARY 2001

It's RAG day in Cambridge, so get outside and have some fun...

23 FEBRUARY 2001

For the preceding 24hr period; Coffees: 1 (ok); Alternative Caffeine: 4 (oops); embarrassing locked-out-of-room scenarios: 1 (stupid key); Gym: 0 (v. bad); websites redesigned: 1 (it's four in the morning! FOUR!)

Poor Netscape 6
Idly visiting Sony Vaio Hong Kong and Sony Style Hong Kong shops, and noticed this messsage on the front page:

Please do not use Netscape 6 to shop at this site

Cooo, look at that
Sodding hell. It's HALF FOUR in the morning. Feh, I'm that bothered. I didn't feel like sleep four and a half hours ago, anyway. I do now, though. Bedtime...

Amusing: BBC News Online searches for the term penguin. Turns up these two gems:

The first story has a great throwaway reference to another story: "They decapitated a chipmunk and stole three others from the Ashbrook vocational centre."

Saw the Medics Revue last night/tonight. Have never laughed so hard recently; was a bit worried that the lemmings sketch may not work, but it went down a treat.

Amusing games played last night whilst annoying caz: substituting the word "cleavage" into either movie titles or straplines.

James Bond films, as ever, make excellent fodder:

  • The cleavage who loved me
  • The spy who loved cleavage
  • The cleavage is not enough
  • From Russia with cleavage
  • Cleavage is forever
  • Diamonds are for cleavage
  • The man with the golden cleavage
  • Never say cleavage again
  • A view to a cleavage
  • Cleavage Royale [luke]
  • Dr. Cleavage [luke]

And then there's more recent films:

  • American Cleavage
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Cleavage
  • Star Wars: A New Cleavage
  • Star Wars: The Cleavage Menace
  • Star Trek: The Undiscovered Cleavage
  • Star Trek: The Motion Cleavage
  • Saving Private Cleavage
  • Cruel Cleavage
  • Dude, Where's My Cleavage
  • Robin Hood, Prince of Cleavage
  • Dr. Strangelove; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cleavage
  • Raiders of the lost cleavage

Perhaps most hilarious (please bear with me, it was probably one of those you had to be there moments) were the Oscar nomination categories:

  • Best cleavage
  • Best supporting cleavage
  • Best cleavage in a foreign language film
  • Best comedy cleavage in a Steve Martin vehicle
  • Best ethnic cleavage
  • Best dubbed cleavage
  • Best cleavage on a sinking ship
  • Best Cleavage in a film directed by Kenneth Brannagh
  • Best dressed cleavage
  • Best cleavage in an English period drama
  • Best cleavage in a Hugh Grant vehicle
  • Best non-digitally-augmented cleavage

There were many, many more. But I think I should spare you the gory details. As it were.

How about you? Come up with any amusing cleavage?


21 FEBRUARY 2001

Coffees: 0 (v. v. good); Alternative Caffeine (2); Gosh-darn awful presentations: 0 (good); Gym: 0 (v. bad); original content: 0 (why are you even reading this?)

20 FEBRUARY 2001

Coffees: 2 (v. good); Curries 1; Gosh-darn awful presentations: 1 (bad); Gym: 0 (v. bad)

PowerPoint Mania
Fuck. Dissertation presentation at 2pm. Panicking. Why versions 95, 97 and 2000? Why does presentation PC not have a net connection? Why do I have to burn a CD for the damn thing? Hmpgh.

I think I've decided to stick up all my dissertation stuff online somewhere. I might as well make it available to everyone and it'll help me get some idea of how much I've done...

Cool. My brother's on his way to the TED XI conference.

19 FEBRUARY 2001

Flash Funniness
Tom's friend has put together Billy Exorcist, mirrored here. Check it out, especially if you've seen the sentimental tearjerker movie.

Warwick University provides a database against which you can check UK STD dialing codes -- works for mobiles as well, but it should be pointed out that portability means you can'tb e sure what network a number is on anymore, short of asking the owner of that number.

18 FEBRUARY 2001

Even Angels Fall
In what has so far amounted to a collective sigh of relief, the fortnight of hell for students at my college seems to have ended with a well-deserved whimper. Starbucks can now come of its high state of alert and expect me just twice a week instead of the three/four visits in the space of five days it had become accustomed to.

On Becoming Slow
So. I've been playing with my new phone. It's wonderful. It's light. I nearly lose it (which is both good and bad), but the one thing that has been incredibly embarrassing is that I didn't know how to use it.

I was in the bank. It started ringing. I didn't even know how to answer the damn thing. The flippy-thing on my old phone had spoiled me. In fact, up until this afternoon, if you called me you probably had about a fifty/fifty chance of getting through, as my fumbling had an entirely good chance of cutting you off.

I think I'm losing it.

Scripting Woes
Tom wrote to suggest that I use anchor tags on the collapsey/expandey things in the tab-type-things (congratulations, I've just won an award for vagueness) to prevent people from being redirected to # at the top of the page. On the other hand, the last time I tried the anchor tags having any number of tabs expanded resulting in frenetic jumping all over the page anyway. Thoughts?

Referers and Search Requests
Hello to orbyn.com, who seems to be supplying a fair number of hits lately.

Discounting the large number of mp3-related search requests (my bad, especially for sticking a relatively large winamp playlist online), these stick out for some reason:

  1. funny britney spears waves
  2. love bee with wet pussy
  3. rah noise
  4. britney spears fucking black man
  5. pure indian filmstar fucking

More fun at the server stats.

16 FEBRUARY 2001

So. Yeah. I was at Number 10 yesterday (long story), though I found out that I can't write about the visit without clearing it with their press office. And I really can't be bothered, so all you get is "I went to Number 10 yesterday".

Um. I'll write more in a bit. Promise.

Bah. JANET's link to the US is down, frustrating many bored students. I'm going to have to write that essay then...

10 FEBRUARY 2001

AskCaz expands with the addition of the Magic Caz Ball...

MP3 playlist updated to frustrate those searching for MP3s.

Server stats online.

People who steal are bastards.

10 FEBRUARY 2001

AskCaz expands with the addition of the Magic Caz Ball...

MP3 playlist updated to frustrate those searching for MP3s.

Server stats online.

People who steal are bastards.

09 FEBRUARY 2001

Slave auction last night. Pictures, as usual.

Took some pictures of my faculty as well. It looks nice at night.

Article on synaesthesia at BBC News.

Everybody in college got pigeonholed by these people yesterday.

Wooo! Yeah! Bought a new phone. Girls buy chocolate and stuff. I go and buy expensive, blue, electronic gadgets (each of those adjectives is incredibly important).

Second outing to the gym today. Went with Natalie at about half eight in the morning after getting to bed at three. Fills you with a wonderful sense of wellbeing. Um. Yeah. Quite why I'm paying twenty eight quid for the privilege of mucking around on a rowing machine for a year is beyond me when I can just go down to the boathouse to do it.

Airhitch. Helping impoverished students fly in planes. Or not, as the case may be.

08 FEBRUARY 2001

Implant achieves female orgasm
Sod it. Just read Wired.

Something should have been achieved tonight. It wasn't. I'm not sure whether that was a good thing or not.

Wise Up
It's not
What you thought
When you first began it
You got
What you want
Now you can hardly stand it though
By now you know
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up.

07 FEBRUARY 2001

You know that huge fuck-off goal that I had that was absolutely terrifying me? Well I may or may not have accomplished it.


Chris pointed out how nice ec was to read under lynx, but I never realised until I tried it... Much nicer.

I just love tax rebates. Even more so when they're unexpected.

Crap reporting
The Independent describes HTML encoded email as "E-mails that contain the blue "web links" normally found on web pages". Great. Or not, as the case may be.

"The only remedy is to turn off the Javascript capability of e-mail programs, a 15-step process that is detailed on the Privacy Foundation's website (www.privacyfoundation.org)."

Or less than fifteen, if you're using Netscape Mail. Or actually none, if you're using a newer build of Outlook Express, where Microsoft has wisely defaulted javascript support to "off", as it should be.

Singles day
Consensus among the UKBloggers contributors seems to indicate that since next Wednesday is Hallmark Card Hell, today is Singles Day. Check out Paul's poll at digitaltrickery.

06 FEBRUARY 2001

I'm like a bird, I'll only fly away
I don't know where my soul is
I don't know where my home is
(And baby all I need for you to know is)
I'm like a bird, I'll only fly away
I don't know where my soul is
I don't know where my home is
(And baby all I need for you to know is)

[Jo Whiley's ex-Pet Sound, not yet released.]

Squiggle no more
Well, the last time I remember it happening was swoosh no more, at 50 cups of coffee, a collection of swoosh-type logos. And then we had spiral hell, a collection of spiral logos. Now, BBC News has picked up on the squiggle trend for the UK Labour Party's new logo. Previous squiggles are illustrated on the page.

Probably picked this up rather late, but the survey team that went out to the Antarctic to check whether penguins fall over when planes fly over them have reported back--they don't [BBC News, slightly more information here].

Bah. Convergence and stuff
Infosync looks nice and has some good content (PDA and mobile phone reviews).

On Sunsets
My brother has switched over to the dark side (as it were), by redesigning Vavatch Orbital to take advantage of our rather nifty sunsets back home. That means that we're both using pictures we took of the sunset whilst standing on the hill up our road. I'm pretty certain we took the photos on the same day as well...

05 FEBRUARY 2001

Listening to Nelly Furtado's I'm like a bird.

Also: incredibly, incredibly, incredibly tired.

Shock news of the day: got into Law School at Chester.

Shock news of the day, 2: webserver in my room has had its pants more or less figuratively knocked off as whoever was at Saturday's bop tries to access the three hundred and seventy odd photos taken.

Shock news of the day, 3: am getting rather good at overanalysing.

ICQ Consensus
Thanks to the marvels of modern communication, my life now has:

a) direction;

b) purpose; and

c) a huge fuck-off goal that absolutely terrifies me.

I love this.

04 FEBRUARY 2001

Rather heavy last few days. Went out Saturday (last) night, customary evidence as required.

Lots of coffees. Lots of meals. Another tonight. Lots of work. Lots, basically, of lots of things.

I've realised that since Wednesday, I haven't been to college for dinner: Thursday night was our friends' engagement dinner, Friday night I was out with my parents, Saturday afternoon was lunch with parents, Saturday night was dinner with a friend. Tonight, I'm collecting a dinner on a bet that I won with a few friends.

I've just Monday left, now...

In the backslapping-wank department, it looks as if Tom's decided to launch his new design...

Ridiculously unfortunate lyrics, 1
Mental note - when consoling friends, do not have the following songs playing (even if Winamp is on shuffle, since they're never a good idea):

You've got to get yourself together / You've got stuck in a moment and now you can't get out of it / Don't say that later will be better / Now you're stuck in a moment and you can't get out of it.

Never a good idea.

More ICQ
Random extracts from an ICQ conversation:

no, and it'd be really nice if a) we got told what was going through their minds b) what they wanted to be going through their minds. i maintain that I still need either a dictionary, an accreditted translator, or just a berlitz phrase book...

Yeah, someone ought to suggets a 'Lonely planet' guide to women :)

What, or a rough guide :)

A Dido interview from the Independent, dissertation links thanks to New Scientist on stem cell research.

03 FEBRUARY 2001

Thank you

Many kind words from James at OneDaySoon on the redesign here. I promise I'll try and find out what's happening with Netscape (apart from, say, their complete ignorance of standards in NS4.X) and try to at least get something working with Mozilla/NS6.


Life has been rather hectic of late, and I've had to take some time looking after some close friends. Well, they know who they are. Time will make everything better.

On the other hand, any faith I had whatsoever in relationships has now been completely and utterly obliterated and I am now a gibbering emotional wreck (no offence in tended to parties involved, who have every right to be gibbering wrecks. I feel rather guilty to even suggest that I might be one). As has been pointed out over countless identical-as-damnit conversations over ICQ;

  1. Yes, relationships are pants.
  2. Given (1), they'd still be quite nice to have, as they're kinda neat.
  3. It's not strictly a relationship per se that's nice, but merely companionship and hugs.
  4. Hugs that involve people crying on you are regarded to be good, as the people doing the crying are generally good friends and you want to help in any way possible.
  5. However, it'd be nice to have a hug that did not involve crying.
  6. Or sniffling.
  7. Nor one, perhaps, that necessitated EU-montains of Kleenex.

Mailing Lists

People seem to be experiencing Groundhog-day-alike email bounces on Ukbloggers at the moment (out of sync messages being a particular feature). Oh well. In other news, I think listmembers have all noticed that the Yahoo/eGroups changeover has pretty much happened now. The list now has a new url.

Drunken Comedy

So, I was out at an engagement dinner a few nights ago. And, for reasons beyond me (though at a guess, I'd put it down to an abundance of alcohol), I and the friend sat next to me found the following exchange absolutely hilarious, to the consternation of our neighbours:

Her: Brrrown Sugggarrrrr!
Me: Whiiiiite Sugggarrrrrrr!
Together: Can-da-rel! (in falsetto)

I enclose a picture to illustrate the comedy. Nevertheless, I am completely puzzled as to how we found sugar of different types quite so amusing.

Brown Sugar! White Sugar! Can-da-rel!

How not to do things, 1:

I need a new phone. For many reasons, really, some of them more important than others. One of those reasons (and a fairly unimportant one) is that I'm strangely attracted to groovy gadgets, and now that my contract with Vodafone is up (12 months have passed, and I'm running down the street screaming "I'm free! I'm free!"), I can feel free to start eyeing the latest tiny phones

The other reason is that a startling proportion of my friends are now on Orange, whilst I am languishing in Vodafoneland.

So? What to do? Well, the Nokia 8210 looks rather nice. It's tiny, and one of its main features is that it doesn't have WAP. It's got a built-in modem and infrared so I can point it at my palmpilot and do rather nifty, but ultimately useless, things.

So: march into Carphone Warehouse, place down my current phone and say "Hello. I'd like one of those tiny things on Orange, please." So they say: "No. We don't have any. Come back in two weeks."

Short of throwing a three year old temper tantrum, lying down on the floor and kicking and screaming "But I want it NOW! I'm young, I love gadgets and I HAVE SOME DISPOSAL INCOME I WANT TO GIVE TO YOU!" (I was with a friend, and I doubt she would have appreciated it), there wasn't really much I could do.

Solution? Step outside and walk for, ooh, five seconds, and find myself in an Orange shop. Say "I'd like one of those teeny tiny blue things", and then they say: "No. We ain't got any either. Come back next week."

My friend gives me a look, or rather, an arched eyebrow, that indicates if I even think of throwing a tantrum she'll probably detesticulate me with a spare five pence piece (no, not even a rusty spoon).

I wait, patiently. I want that phone. I Go back to the Orange shop, stand in line, and politely ask if they have and 8210s in. "No. Sorry."

I do this again.

And again.

The fourth time I go to the Orange shop, they recognise me on sight and before I even get to ask them whether they've got a phone in, the salesman is reaching for his card.

"Call us," he says. "You don't have to keep coming round." His face manages to look both concerned and pitying at the same time. I am rather unnerved by this, and leave the shop feeling patronised and, well, empty haded.

No better luck at Carphone Warehouse, either. In the meantime, the aerial manages to fall out of my current mobile, thus exacerbating the situation somewhat. My quest for a new phone becomes a fervent religious pilgrimage from shop to shop, comparble, I suppose to the comic proportions of Monty Python's Quest for a Holy Grail. I rather feel that the next salesman is going to ask me for a shrubbery before I'm handed the object I am seeking.

I'm rather surprised, then, when someone from Orange calls me on my mobile. Apparently, I've been selected for a cold call "Wow! I feel special!" and they want me to change to their network. "Really?" I ask, and convey a sense of quiet disbelief that they are so insightful, seeing as I never gave anyone a number to call me on. "No, really," they insist, "We'd love to switch you to Orange."

This is looking rather good. I seem to be the salesman's wet dream as I effortlessly jumpt hrough the hoops presented in front of him in his call-centre hell. I'm with Vodaphone. Yes, I do think they charge me quite a bit. I've had my phone over twelve months. I'd rather like a new one. Yes, I've heard of Everyday 50, but would like a rather meatier contract. I manage, eventually, to get the man on the other end of the line to beat any offer I've had previously, and then what happens?

My Phone Dies.

I think you'll find it's called schadenfreude.

How not to do things, 2:

Sometime in the middle of Christmas, I redesigned the Gallery after an influx of photos from my new camera. I thought, at the time, that I a) didn't have the time, and b) couldn't be arsed, to do the whole thing as a big fat databse backended splodge, thinking I'd do the thing in plain html and to hell with it. I don't mind taking up oodles of space (for ecah image there's the image itself, the associated thumbnail and an html page to display. And then the contact sheet).

Well that was a good idea at the time. of course, when you realise that the gallery actually contains over fourteen hundred pictures, you begin to think that maybe you should have done it the other way.


02 FEBRUARY 2001

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Chris for sorting out many things (NSI et al are pants)...

Last night, Paul and Naomi had their engagement dinner (we bought them some of this as a present). A leetle bit of wine, lots of Izzard-esque humour: "Brown Sugar? White sugar! CANDAREL!" and far too much snakeage.

Electrical signals from human cells are coupled to silicon chips [More at New Scientist]

A virtual space war reveals the US's over-reliance on commercial satellites (the Blue vs. Red story) [More at New Scientist]

Electronics engineers are giving birth to a new species of space probes that will adapt to harsh environments, heal themselves and even evolve into better, smarter machines. [More at New Scientist]

Scientific American redesigns (at least, it did so within the last fortnight), getting rid of its dated 1996-era look.

How vaccines prevent flu. [Scientific American]

Fatal flaw of the Times website: bookmarked archive articles do not display a publish date.

Full Text of House of Lords debate: Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2000 [dissertation research]

More college in-jokes: Ask Caz receives more visits from bored students, and is rapidly becoming a catchphrase...

SuperJanet4, the UK's academic network, trundles along nicely.

Reason one to feel a bit down today: the US Senate gave approval to Ashcroft as the Attorney General [More, from The Independent]

Reason two to feel exasperated: talk shows and adoptions [More, from The Independent]

A (rather embarassing) Oxbridge mafia highlighted by The Guardian shows that both Keith Vaz and Alastair Campbell went to my college.

What would happen if you tried to write a hard-boiled detective story containing the fifty words and phrases on Lycos' annual "Web's Most Wanted" list? Well, you'd probably end up with this. [Modern Humorist]

A classic I blogged nearly a year ago now - "Goldfish in blenders cause curiosity, contempt" [AP in FoxNews.com]:

"COPENHAGEN, Denmark—The art display at the small museum in western Denmark features 10 goldfish, each swimming in its own blender. The catch: Each blender can be turned on, depending on the viewer's whim."

01 FEBRUARY 2001

ICQ is pants
ICQ exchange, late at night... (I'm in italics)

ICQ is pants. It's arsey.

It's not that bad...it works pretty quick bit quirky maybe....not very consistent

Yeah, but it's designed very pantsly.

is pantsly a word....?

It is now :)

yes it probably should

Pants is my new word :) ... though I suspect that someone else may have used it before...

Hate to break this to you, but it's neither new nor yours.... damn, beaten :)



I'm visiting...
I'm watching...
I'm reading...
I'm listening to...
You can see me...
Get in touch with me...