Archive for February, 2004

Gosh

Friday, February 27th, 2004

My brother is moving to Japan. He’s got himself a job as an English language teacher out there and he leaves at the end of April. I’m just a touch jealous.

I’d better start looking at the cost of flights; looks like summer holiday this year is going to be in Osaka :)

Puzzles

Thursday, February 26th, 2004

I’ve just spent a little while scratching my head over this. I’m on round 1, puzzle 7 of the first contest and it’s driving me barmy. Some of them are fairly easy, and some of them are a complete nightmare. My head hurts.

Lazy blogging

Thursday, February 26th, 2004

I can’t be arsed today. Here’s the next 15 items off my WinAmp playlist:

  1. Quantic – In the key of blue
  2. Trip – Drifting
  3. Fluke – Zion
  4. Hydro – Celtech/Jubente petrus
  5. Jesse Malin – Downliner
  6. Lostprophets – …And she told me to leave
  7. Martin Grech – Only one listening
  8. Daft Punk – Aerodynamic
  9. Faith Massive – Absolution (Jazz Step Mix)
  10. mr scruff – Spandex Man
  11. Nuyorican Soul – Gotta new life
  12. Longview – Falling without you
  13. Underworld – Ballet Lane
  14. Coldplay – The Scientist
  15. Gemma Hayes – Tear in my side

Maybe I’ll feel inspired to write something better later. Or maybe not.

Headphones

Wednesday, February 25th, 2004

Lyle‘s post about headphones at work reminded me. I need to rant about headphones. I bought a new pair for use at work the other day (Sennheiser HD477s – I like Sennheiser’s sound very much) because I either tended to leave my headphones at work when I needed them at home, or at home when I needed them at work.

I have issues with headphones – now, Sennheiser and their pals can make the most glorious, wonderful pieces of audio technology, capable of wonderfully balanced, warm, crisp sound reproduction with a seriously impressive dynamic range considering the size of the drivers and cones. However, they can’t make the damn things comfortable enough to wear for more than about 10 minutes without it feeling like someone has clamped your head in a vice and is slowly but surely winding it tighter and tighter.

Worse, no headphone manufacturer ever seems to consider that anyone using their headphones might be wearing glasses – every pair I’ve tried presses the arms of your glasses tight in against the side of your head, right against the pressure points just in from of your ear.

Also, my older pair of Sennheiser HD200s are a closed back, circumaural design with faux-leather material for the pads. Which means that after about five minutes of wear my ears are baking hot and dripping with sweat. This newer pair are better in that respect as they have open backs and an absorbant material for the pads (but being open-backed, their sound isolation is considerably worse than the HD200s).

I can’t wear in-ear headphones at all. They cause me immense pain and bring on a grinding headache very soon after I start to use them (plus, the audio fidelity is generally rubbish and they leak sound like crazy). Those oh-so-fashionable neck-band headphones that all the cool kids wear these days are about as useful as a tin-can and a bit of string.

What I ideally want is an individual, soundproof office in which I can stick a monster hi-fi cranked up to 11 and listen to my music in comfort without bothering others. Somehow, I don’t think head office will go for that one, though.

Crispy fried brains

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

My brain is fried today. My current coding technique seems to involve concentrating very hard on the class header I’ve just written in the vain hope that all the complicated details will fill themselves out without my needing to type things in on the keyboard, or think, or anything taxing like that. It doesn’t help that the problem I’m trying to tackle today is a particularly evil one, but the way things are going today, I reckon I’d have difficulty even writing HelloWorld.cpp.

It’s probably the fault of the Guinness from last night. Which reminds me – it’s entirely possible that the barmaid who was in ScuBar last night has taken over the mantle of cutest barmaid in Manchester now my favourite barmaid from FAB Cafe no longer works there. And she could pour a pint of Guinness properly, too.

Mad dogs and Englishmen

Sunday, February 22nd, 2004

Look, it was sunny outside, okay? It looked pretty warm, for February.

I’ve just been windsurfing. Well, actually, I got back just over an hour ago, but I’ve only just got enough sensation back in my fingers such that I can operate a computer with a modicum of success. It seems that large open expanses of water in Manchester are quite a lot colder in February than in, say, August.

To be fair, the wind was pretty good, although gusting a bit, and I got a couple of good planing reaches, but I spent considerably more time in the water being laughed at by small children – “Daddy, why is that man in the water? Isn’t he cold?” – than I really wanted to. I gave up after about an hour, when I could no longer feel my fingers or toes (the middle of a lake is a really bad place to discover that you no longer have the strength to hold the sail up, incidentally). I probably spent more time rigging and derigging than I did on the water.

(which reminds me – surely someone must have come up with a gadget that makes putting downhaul on your sail easier than pulling very, very, very hard on your downhaul line? Even the 3-way pully, useful as it is, doesn’t exactly make it easy. Usually by the time I’ve rigged my sail, I’m sufficiently exhausted and my arms ache enough that I’m thinking it would be nice to go home right about then)

Anyway. That’s got my average cost per session down to about £200 now. I’ve only got to use it another 51 times before it pays for itself.

I think I’m going to go to the pub now.

Christmas Presents

Thursday, February 19th, 2004

A month or so before Christmas, a friend of mine sent me an email asking what she should get her boyfriend for Christmas; her reasoning being that, as he was getting a new acoustic guitar, she should buy him something guitar related, and I was a convenient person who also played guitar and therefore should be able to suggest something.

Buying presents for guitarists isn’t terribly easy – the things they want are either very boring, very expensive or both. You can stick as many shiny bits on it as you like, but a capo is still basically a clamp with a handle, and a pack of strings is likely to be about as well received as a pair of socks – necessary, useful, but showing a total lack of imagination on the part of the giver.

I suggested, therefore, that she should buy him something tangentially related to guitars, rather than something specifically for his guitar. Like, maybe a harmonica, or something.

It turns out that, in fact, harmonicas were the cause of some disagreement between the happy couple. He, being American and having grown up in America in the 1970s, was given to believe that all things country-music-esque were great and wonderful; whereas she, being British, of sound mind and character, and posessed of at least some musical taste (if not any actual musical talent), was given to believe that there is a special circle of hell created especially for purveyors of the aformentioned slide-guitar-and-harmonica-led musical atrocities.

Anyway, we to-and-fro’d about this for a while, and eventually came to the conclusion that she should attempt to go through his bag of guitarry bits whilst he was out of the room at some point, and then go and buy whatever seemed to be missing off a list I had given her. Problem solved.

A little while after Christmas, we were chatting in the pub; I asked if she’d managed to find a suitable present. It seems he already had everything I had suggested she buy him, so she’d ended up getting something non-guitar-related in the end, which seemed like an agreeable solution to the problem.

“So, then, what did he get you?”
“Ah. I have a feeling you’re going to like this.”
“Oh? Go on.”
“Promise you won’t laugh?”
“No. What did he get you?”
“A harmonica and teach yourself country harmonica book.”
“I like this guy already.”

What passes for normal

Tuesday, February 17th, 2004

I’ve been a bit quiet a bit lately; sorry about that. What passes for normal service should be resuming any time around now.

Having spectacularly failed to arrange anything for Valentine’s day this year, and figuring that there’s no way we’d get a restaurant booked for the Saturday on the Friday night, I decided to take Naomi out on Friday instead, to the very excellent Yang Sing in the centre of town (always a good way to get yourself out of trouble as the food is magnificent and it’s huge, so you’re pretty well guaranteed a table even at the last minute). Thanks to a couple of clumsy drunk German guys spilling Naomi’s glass of water across the table, we even got a free bottle of wine out of it. Excellent stuff.

On the subject of restaurants, I went to the best little restaurant in Manchester last night. I’m not going to tell you where it is, because then it’ll get popular and I’d never be able to get a table again, and that would be a tragedy. But it’s a wonderful place, a converted pub, serving a small menu of absolutely first-rate food for stupidly low prices (£8 for a main course on average – a meal for 4 came to less than £45 before drinks, including two starters and a cheeseboard, allegedly for one but three people couldn’t finish it). The place is actually owned by the head chef (a minor celebrity TV chef) who oversaw its conversion from city-centre pub to gastronomic sensation, and by my reckoning, in a month or two’s time, you won’t be able to get near the place.

Oh, alright then. It’s called The Bridge and it’s on Bridge Street, just off Deansgate. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Addendum

Oh, and to the scally bastards who put out the back window of my Dad’s car in the car park last night: I hope your testicles become enflamed and a horde of angry wasps sting your eyeballs. Scum.

Titan

Monday, February 16th, 2004

According to The Times, scientists think that Titan could be a lot like Sweden. I reckon this is fairly conclusive evidence, how about you?

Thanks to Foggy@UA2 for the space.com URL magic required to display my potatoswappery

13,14,15,17,18

Friday, February 13th, 2004

Number of times I have waited for a number 16 bus this week: 2

Number of times a number 16 bus actually turned up within half an hour of the stated arrival time: 0

Number of times I have been late for work as a result of the non-arrival of the number 16 bus: 2

I’m beginning to believe that the number 16 bus service does not actually exist, and it is in fact just a ploy by Manchester City Council to make people stand outside in the cold early morning air and feel foolish.

In other news, my car is in for its MOT retest today. Fingers crossed.

Edit

It’s passed! Woo! Yay! Houpla! And all that.