Archive for November, 2003

Blerg II

Friday, November 28th, 2003

Off work today with a nasty cold type thing. I hate colds; they make the dizziness from my labyrinthitis much, much worse. This, combined with the continuing palpitations and exciting variety of chest pains means I’m not in a terribly happy way today.

Which is a shame, frankly, because apparently we finally got approval from Hitmaker to release the conversion of Crazy Taxi 3, the game which has been the cause of so much stress and aggravation for me over the last few months. So, er, yay for that.

To cheer myself up, I bought Raw Spirit by Iain Banks. It’s a book all about his journey round Scotland, drinking lots of whisky and getting paid for it. Lucky beggar. (for what it’s worth, I’ve just finished reading Dead Air, also by Mr Banks, and thoroughly enjoyed it).

The Bee-Gees
I mean, really, how come no-one noticed that they’d managed to record every vocal take for this soulful baritone trio at half speed, so when played back at normal speed they ended up sounding like Alvin, Simon and Theodore on helium? Forget “Let It Be – Naked”, what we want is the Bee Gees songs as originally intended – slow, soulful ballads sung by three rich, chocolatey baritones.

Curious Windows Interdependency Of The Day

Wednesday, November 26th, 2003

So, anyway. Visual Studio .NET on my work machine has always had this weird issue whereby if I abort a build halfway through, it will sit and hang for about 5 minutes before I can do anything else with it; likewise, if I alt-tab to or from it whilst debugging an application, it will hang for anything up to a minute, making debugging very frustrating and nearly impossible.

Well, anyway, today I was doing a cleanup of my machine and removed some joystick drivers I no longer needed. Magically, Visual Studio started working normally too. Probably the strangest bit of interdependence I’ve yet seen in Windows, that one. Hmm.

(in case anyone is having similar issues – which I doubt – the drivers were for a Gravis Xterminator Digital joypad, and removing the Gravis Xperience drivers seemed to be what made everything joyful and happy again.)

Happy Birthday

Wednesday, November 26th, 2003

(Damnit, it’s gone midnight now. Blame the Eid traffic for that one.)

It was a certain special someone’s birthday today (yesterday? Tuesday, whatever), and I’ve just got back from taking her out for a very nice meal in a very nice restaurant in Manchester. And I just want to say that I love her very, very much and I miss her horribly at times like this when we’re both much too busy to see each other.

Sorry for being all mushy and stuff, but sometimes some things have to be said :)

Oh dear

Sunday, November 23rd, 2003

Instructions:

  • Click here
  • Select “Online catalogue”
  • Select “A-C”
  • Select “Crystals”
  • Laugh. Or cry. Your choice.

Swing low

Saturday, November 22nd, 2003

Go England! Go England! Go England!

Johnny Wilkinson – sportsman of the year? I think so.

I’m a bit chuffed :)

Meta

Friday, November 21st, 2003

The blogmeet set me thinking. Blogging is incredibly narcissistic and self-indulgent. Apropos of pretty much nothing at all, you write your little posts, your little opinion pieces and tales of your life, petty little rants and amusing stories, and then stick them on the internet, throw them open to the world and ask for comments. As if the world actually cares about what you write and what you think.

But – and here’s the weird thing – they do. And not just the ‘celebrity’ bloggers, like Wil Wheaton, Neil Gaiman and Scaryduck. A person who works for a newspaper reads about the person who designs webpages, and a father of two leaves comments on essays that a girl who works behind a bar has written about one of her customers. Communities form, and in some small way, these otherwise unrelated lives become interwoven in a tangled spiderweb of stories and opinions.

When I started Not A Blog (after my first couple of abortive attempts at writing a web journal, which invariably ended up turning into long-winded whinges about how crap my life was that even I couldn’t bear to read, let alone anyone else) I didn’t really expect anyone to read it. It’s still not exactly widely read – I get between one and two hundred hits a day, and about 30-40 actual individual visits – but the fact that anyone outside of my immediate circle of friends is actually reading at all surprises me. But people do read it, and some of them even leave me little comments, and I probably don’t seem as appreciative of that as I am. I’m not out for a big insecurity trip here – “Hey everyone! Tell me you love me! Please love me!” – but it’s nice to know someone out there is listening.

For me, writing Not A Blog is mostly a way of satiating this nagging feeling that I have that I want to write about… well… something. I don’t have enough dedication to do a novel (although I keep promising myself – as with most bloggers, I guess – that I’ll do it one day) and my few abortive attempts at journalism convinced me that arguing with editors wasn’t something I wanted to spend my life doing. And whilst editing the school magazine (both the official and unofficial version) was fun for a while, the necessity for editorial impartiality was unsatisfying. So, this way, I get to write what I like and when I like. Of course, the freedom that comes with blogging is a double-edged sword – at least with journalism, you’ve got something specific to achieve by writing, but there’s no such target with something this freeform, and writer’s block is a common problem – but at least when it does strike I do have the option to not write something (an option for which you, the reader, should be equally grateful, to be honest).

I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this. It’s taken me two hours to get this far, and I’m still not sure what I’m trying to say. I had a few points floating around in my head (narcissism, communities, soap operas, actually having a readership, etc) that seemed tangentially related in some way, and I wanted to make them into a post; I’ve done that now, I think, but I don’t know whether I’ve got an underlying point to it all – which I guess is quite a lot like blogging, in a way. And on that nicely self-referential point, I reckon it’s probably time I shut up and got some lunch.

Oh, and thank you for reading :)

The Internet

Friday, November 21st, 2003

Ordinarily, there’s probably no way that I would have ever met Lyle, Sarah, Jane or Adrian (I know topper – and hence Lori – as we did the same degree course). But through the magic that is the interwebnet, this motley crew descended upon Manchester’s Fab Cafe with the intention of meeting people they’d (mostly) never met and drinking lots of beer.

Lori, Topper and I arrived first, shortly followed by Lyle and Sarah. Any worries that Adrian and Jane might not recognise us were quickly relieved when Lyle unveiled his very, very red and delightfully offensive anti-Christmas t-shirt. And so the evening began. Much alcohol was consumed, many jokes were told and stories shared (including, to my eternal shame, the one about me going to see david essex) and a good time was had by all. Like most of the attendees, my memory of actual details is a little hazy, but I do remember that it was all very relaxed and lighthearted, and thankfully totally free of those awkward gaps in conversation when you realise that no-one has anything interesting left to say. So, inevitably, we’re going to do it again at some point. Hooray for the internet!

Blogmeet

Wednesday, November 19th, 2003

As advertised on, ooh, at least three other websites, tonight is the second Manc blogmeet. 8pm, FAB Cafe. I’ll be the one with the hospital name wristband thingy on my right wrist.

(no, really; I went to get my heart looked at this afternoon ‘cos I’ve been having palpitations and that for a couple of days; it all seems normal, so I’m probably not dying or anything, but it’s making sleep a bit tricky, on account of how I can feel my heartbeat as I drift off, and that wakes me up).

Anyway, be there or be somewhere else. It’s your choice, really.

Intractable

Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

It’s reassuring that, when you’ve been banging your head against a seemingly impossible problem for several days, it turns out that even eggheaded brainy scientist types can come across things that don’t quite work like they ought to. Yay for science, again.

(also on a science tip, this should help you maintain a bit of perspective on things – needs Java)

There are some really, really stupid people in this world.

Oh, and apparently – you know how the president’s plane is Air Force One? Well, his helicopter is apparently Marine One. Okaay. And his presidential limo is Cadillac One. I wonder how far that extends? Is there, like, a Coffee Mug One for him to drink out of? Does he evacuate his presidential bowels on Toilet One? The mind boggles.

Update
More on that mad particle here and here.

Hacking

Friday, November 14th, 2003

Seeing as the word “hacker” has come to mean (in the public lexicon) what the word “cracker” actually means, thanks mostly to a lazy news media and a certain film. It therefore seems to me that we need a new word to mean what “hack” previously meant.

For those of you who aren’t pedantically anal about such things, a cracker is someone who does illegal stuff with computers, like breaking into peoples accounts and stealing data; whereas a hacker is merely someone who uses computers a lot in a highly technical capacity. The verb ‘to crack’ in this context usually means to break the protection on a computer or piece of software – for example, to crack a password, or crack a game (remove the copy protection); conversely, the verb ‘to hack’ means to do something technical using a computer, usually in a quick-and-nasty sort of way – for example, “I couldn’t find a tool to do what I wanted, so I hacked one up myself” or “it’s a bit of a nasty hack, but it works.”

Current suggestions include:

  • Badger – “I had to badger it a bit, but it works”
  • Wang – “It’s only a little wang, but it’s not exactly pretty”
  • Flange – “The whole thing is one big, nasty flange”

I’m sure you can come up with something better.