Archive for March, 2004


Saturday, March 20th, 2004

I was mugged on my way home last night. They got my phone, but my protestations that I didn’t have anything else seemed convincing enough, so I’ve still got my wallet (and my Gameboy Advance, which was also in my pocket at the time also – yes, I know, I’m such a geek). I also seem to have a bruise on my ear where they pushed me to the ground.

Annoyingly, for an attack which took all of 20 seconds, the police interview/statement process took over an hour and a half. They asked me to try and describe the guys – it was dark, the attack took less than a minute, and I wasn’t exactly taking notes on their face shape and trainer brand at the time. So Manchester police are now looking for two guys, one about 6foot, one slightly shorter wearing dark hooded tracksuit tops and white trainers. Well, gee, that’s only everyone in the entire city, then. All I want is a goddamned crime reference number so I can report it to Orange and get my replacement phone.

Anyway, my replacement isn’t arriving until tomorrow afternoon, so I’ve got to go around for today and tomorrow with that odd, vaguely impotent feeling of being out of touch. I suspect that, just before the phone arrives, I shall be beginning to enjoy the freedom of not being contactable 24/7, and then all the missed calls and text messages for the last 24 hours will flood in.

Anyway, I’m all right, and I haven’t lost anything important (hurrah for bluetooth synchronisation of phone books), and that’s the main thing.


Friday, March 19th, 2004

A momentous event has occurred. The number one search reaching this site is no longer “parm reading” (and thus my prime piece of evidence that internet is largely used by illiterate fools is now sadly gone). It’s now “The Smashing Pumpkins”, and I’m not sure I understand why – I’ve never written about them, and I’m not in the first 10 pages of hits for that search term on Google (of course, the irony is that, now I’ve included the phrase in an entry, the number of hits from it is probably only going to increase). “Half Life 2” is still doing pretty well in third place, and the frankly baffling “James IHA” is in fourth.

Other curious search terms include:

Oh, and for the guy who ended up here wanting to know how to capture creatures in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance: you need a Hunter, which you get from a human with 2 Archer A-abilities. GameFAQs is your friend in future.

My name is

Thursday, March 18th, 2004

My surname is Whitworth. Not exactly a great secret, given that it’s printed at the bottom of every page on this website, but, y’know, some people don’t read all the way to the bottom. I like it as a name. It’s not too common, and it’s got an interesting heritage (I like to make the spurious claim that I’m a descendant of Joseph himself – we can track our family roots back up to the north at around the time of the Industrial Revolution, and according to Naomi who once watched a documentary on Joseph, I’m quite a lot like him. The fact of the matter is I have no idea if I really am related to him or not, but it’s nice to think I am).

My coming to Manchester, then, was sort of a homecoming for the Whitworth name (or it would have been if there weren’t already a bunch of us living here already). A proud name returning to the roots of its fame once again. Perhaps I could revolutionise, uh, something in the same way that Joseph revolutionised, well, everything? Or perhaps I could just start a long and confusing battle with the University administration systems who refused to believe that I could be both called Whitworth and living in Whitworth Park halls:

“Can I take your name and address, please?”
“Yes. My name is Chris Whitworth, and my address is Flat 13, Thorncliffe House, Whitworth Park…”
“Your name is Chris Whitworth, and you live in Whitworth Park?”
“That’s right.”
“You’re sure?”
“Er, yes. I think so. I mean, I could be wrong about my name, but I definitely live in Whitworth Park.”
“That’s quite a coincidence.”
“Yes, it is. And no-one has ever pointed it out before, ever. Really. Can we get on?”

Anyway. I no longer live anywhere Whitworth-related, so life – at least in that respect – is some small degree simpler now.

The thing I can’t get my head round, though, is hearing my name bandied about in public without thinking people are talking about me (what with Whitworth being a fairly uncommon name, and that). Thing is, there are a reasonably large number of things in Manchester named after the goodly Joseph – an art gallery, a road, numerous buildings, a (pretty decent) pub, and so forth – and so naturally the name tends to crop up in conversations. It doesn’t happen hugely often – certainly not often enough that I get used to it – but often enough that I quite often find myself turning round and double taking before I realise people aren’t talking about me.

I realise, of course, that this means I have an unbelievably huge ego and exaggerated sense of self-importance, but when they go around naming things after you all the time, what do you expect?

One day, maybe I’ll move to Whitworth itself and really confuse things…


Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

Jez (flatmate, just returned from two weeks in the middle east) is downstairs with a group of people for a church group thingy. It seems to involve pizza. Anyway, I have been relegated to my bedroom, and I am quite shocked to find out exactly how much of a loose end I find myself at without a TV to watch.

A couple of years ago, I barely watched TV. There was so much more to do in life – I’d be out most evenings in the week doing something or other, and if I was in the house, I’d always have a programming project on the go, or a song to write, or something like that. Lately, though, I’ve been aware that I’ve coming home and just crashing on the sofa for the evening, tuning out and turning into a mindless blob. Which is crap, frankly.

Okay, it’s fair enough if there’s something worth watching on TV, but how often does that happen? It’s not like I don’t have enough to do. I’ve still got I Don’t Get It to sort out (I did a couple of days work on the backend a month or so ago, and it’s sort of stagnated since then, rather predictably); I’ve got a couple of songs buzzing round in my head I’ve still not even started to arrange yet; hell, even the electric piano I borrowed from Church a couple of weeks back hasn’t seen much use, and I’ve been desperately after a piano for years.

But I just seem to lack motivation. After a day of staring at screenfuls of C++, when I get home I just want to crash; to switch my brain off and not worry about being productive or achieving anything for a few hours. Lack of physical activity in my life at the moment means I’m generally feeling lethargic and low on energy, which serves to sap my motivation further. Hopefully, this should change as the weather gets better and I start windsurfing regularly again, but it’s brought to attention quite how unfit I am these days. I threatened to start going swimming regularly again a few weeks ago, but nothing came of that.

So. A change of some sort is needed. Maybe I really will try and go swimming regularly. Or maybe I’ll set myself a target to have written and arranged a track by the end of the month. Or at the very least just got out of the damn flat for a reason other than going to work.


Monday, March 15th, 2004

How did it happen, exactly? How did the most repugnantly authoritarian and right-wing home secretary we’ve possibly ever had even get let into the Labour party, let alone put in such a position of power and responsibility as Home Secretary? As if not content with undermining such basic rights as trial by jury, presumed innocence and personal privacy, he’s now decided that if you are stuck in prison for something you didn’t do, when you get out you’re going to have to pay for the time you spent there. No, really. And this is apparently a “reasonable” thing to do.

Words fail me, they really do.

More here.


Sunday, March 14th, 2004

In the gallery, you will find another two sets of pictures.

The first batch are from the walk up Mam Tor from Edale I went on the other week; my express photographic purpose for the day was to get one of those cliched misty waterfall shots. I succeeded to some degree, but there’s some annoying twigs and things in the foreground, and the picture itself is a bit dark. But still, there’s some nice pictures there anyway.

The other film is of Maine Road. They’re in the process of pulling it down now, and I wanted to get a few photographs of this historic occasion. I’d planned on using black and white for it, but upon arriving at the stadium I discovered that I’d still got most of a roll of colour slide film in my camera; I think it actually made for better pictures than the rather cliched black and white ones I could have ended up with – it made the pictures look far more dramatic and imposing than I think I could have done with B&W.

Anyway, wander over and have a see what you think.

Tinfoil hat time

Saturday, March 13th, 2004

Ooh, so close:

chris@chris:~$ perl
use Date::Calc qw(Delta_Days);
print Delta_Days(2001, 9, 11, 2004, 3, 11);

Edit:For those of you who aren’t well versed in the glory of perl, that little excerpt of code calculates the number of days in between Sept 11 2001 and March 11 2004, which turns out to be 912. I’m sure you can work out the “significance” of that for yourself.

(have I said recently how great Linux still is? Because it is. Even if every single graphics/audio abstraction API for it is utter toss and open source coders should never, ever be allowed to design a user interface which normal human beings will have to use)


Friday, March 12th, 2004

Earlier this week, I had loads of stuff to write about, but no time to do it in. Today, I find myself with a spare lunch hour and I’ve forgotten everything I was going to write about. I blame progress report meetings, which have a curious ability to sap all my motivation and reduce my brain’s efficiency to something approaching zero; I think it’s the way you have to boil down a week’s worth of work into a couple of sentences in order to continue to justify your existence to management types who sit several hundred miles away and decide whether you get paid or not – and if you’ve spent a large amount of the week bugfixing, it’s guaranteed to look bad on the report because no actual forward progress is made despite the fact you’ve probably been working as hard, if not harder, than when you wrote the code which needed fixing in the first place.

Ooh, I remember something: We’ve been getting messages on our answering service at home which are plainly not for us. They sound suspiciously like debt collection agencies calling for someone who has scarpered without paying off whatever ludicrous debt they’ve managed to incur. Now, I’d quite like to stop receiving these calls, but I’m loathe to ring them back, because I know there’s precisely zero chance the person on the other end of the line will believe me if I say that I’m not the person they think I am, and that could lead to all sorts of nastiness. So, what should I do?

My earplugs are still missing.

Paging “Mike”

Tuesday, March 9th, 2004

Just a quick one – about a month or two back, someone identifying themselves only as “Mike” left a comment about my being prescribed antidepressants for insomnia. I’ve only just come across this comment; if you’re reading this, could you get in touch at this address ( please; my doctor is also at the David Medical Centre, and if there’s other people with complaints about him, I’d like to include them in any complaints I make to the regional health authority.

The Vanishing

Tuesday, March 9th, 2004

When I was younger, I lost a pair of trousers.

I must have been about 13 or 14. I came home from school, got changed out of my uniform, and headed off to do whatever it was 13 or 14 year olds did after school in them days (probably burning stuff or shooting cows with BB guns or something). The following morning, however, as I was getting ready for school, I discovered my trousers had vanished. A quick check confirmed that they weren’t in the wash or anything – they’d just absolutely, totally vanished. Of course, my mum naturally refused to believe that they’d just disappeared; she got it into her head that I’d obviously ripped them or something and thrown them away before she found out. Which I felt was quite unfair, because I hadn’t.

To this day, the mystery of the disappearing trousers remains unsolved.

Anyway, I recount this story because last night, I was party to another unusual and slightly disquieting disappearance: that of my earplugs. In and of itself, that’s not too unusual – I lose earplugs all the time, being small and rolly things as they are. What made last night’s disappearance is the fact that I was wearing them at the time.

Ever since my bout of chronic insomnia a couple of months back, I’ve taken to wearing earplugs in bed a few nights a week – sometimes the noise of my computer humming and the traffic on the road outside get a little too annoying and I need to shut out all external distractions. Last night was one of those nights. So, before commencing my occasional battle with the demons of insomnia, I stuck the little foam-rubber plugs in my ears and settled in for as good a night’s sleep as I could hope for. Thankfully, the double measure of Old Pulteney before bedtime meant that I drifted off fairly quickly (and also probably accounts for the storming headache I have this morning).

As I awoke this morning, I was aware that something wasn’t quite right. My ears felt funny. Like, something was missing… Ah, yes! My earplugs weren’t there. They must’ve fallen out in the night, or something. I had a quick search around my pillow, which is where they’d normally be. They weren’t there. I looked around, under and behind my bed, inside the folds of the duvet, under my pillow – nothing. My earplugs had completely disappeared – and this can only lead me to one satisfactory conclusion: My ears ate my earplugs.

The X-File have got nothing on my life, I tell you.