Posts in Category: Random

The Night, Almost the Morning(?)

Monday 5th January 2009

I’ve had loads of ideas of things I want to write here recently. But unfortunately I’ve not bothered, and now when I sit down to write something out I can’t remember what the hell I was going to say. Really, it’s a lesson to not put things off too long. Or to write things down, I’m not sure which.

Anyway, it’s 2009. This is the first January for a while where I’ve not got any exams, which is pretty great. It means that since I finished work a couple of weeks ago, I’ve spent most of my time alternating between playing different games (various things on the Wii but particularly WiiSports and Tennis, Left4Dead on the PC, and lately Darwinia and Bioshock – thank you Steam January sale). Not that I probably would’ve spent my time all that differently if I did have exams, but this year it’s all guilt free…

Speaking of the games, I thought Darwinia was absolutely brilliant. It’s hard to explain what it is, so I won’t try. All I’ll say is that it’s bloody addictive, and it’s caused a fair few “oh shit, is that the time?” moments over the past few nights/mornings. Left4Dead is also rather good, but then you’d expect that from a Valve game. Bioshock has disappointed me a little, if I’m honest. I love the style of the game, the look and feel of the whole thing. But for some reason I don’t think the actual gameplay is that good; it’s not quite as compelling as other games are. It doesn’t keep me up till the early hours of the morning or make me say to myself “I’ll just finish this one thing, then I’ll go”. I’m not sure why exactly.

Anyway, 2008 was pretty good, all told. Probably could’ve been better, but it was certainly better than 2007. That said, like (I guess) most students years really start and end for me at the end of Sept/start of Oct, so the “proper” new year isn’t quite such a new start.

Uhm, I cant think of anything else to write. Thats a bit poor really. Le Sigh.

Posted In: GeekRandomSleepStuff Tagged: | 2 Comments

Good and Bad

Saturday 29th November 2008

I bought a new hard disk a couple of months ago. It seems to have died on me. The thought of re-ripping all my CDs, and losing lots of other things that theres no way for me to get back, is not a good one. Sob.

In other news, I drove past this shop earlier and it made me laugh…

Sell Fridges

Posted In: Random | 1 Comment

The Cue To Queue

Monday 17th November 2008

So I was in a shop earlier. Tesco, as it happens. With one of my brothers. This particular branch of Tesco is one of the small ones, and is laid out such that the queue for the checkout can form in a couple of ways depending on whatever psychological forces you care to mention. I cant be bothered to explain what I mean, so here’s a diagram of the layout:


I should make it clear that theres no sign or anything saying “queue this way”, it’s basically down to where people choose to queue.

So anyway, today the queue formed in the way I’ve labeled as queue A in the layout above. When we got to the end of the shelves, my brother stepped aside to look at something at the end of the shelf, while I stood in the same place. The position my brother was in was the same as that of someone who in queue B, so when he took a step closer to the checkouts when the person in front moved, the two girls stood behind us chose to pass comment.

Not to us, of course. One said to the other “god, don’t you hate it when people queue in the wrong place and then cut in”. Now, usually I’d let it go, but this time I didn’t. I turned round and explained that yes the queue went that way (I hadn’t labeled them queues A and B at this stage, I’m not that sad) but that actually he was in front of them. At which point one said to the other – not to me – “don’t you hate it when people cut the queue and then have attitude?”. My brother then turned round and told them to go ahead of him. Their response was “oh, well I don’t really want to now”. Again, said between themselves, not to us. They did puish in front of us in the end.

Theres not much I’m gonna say about that. It just seemed so British. That sense of “well yes I have a problem, but rather than tell you about it I’ll just pass comment about it, loud enough so you’re bound to hear. Hah, that’ll get ya!”

That I’m writing about a queue also seems pretty British. But there you go.

Btw, that I drew that diagram is the second indication today that I probably need to get out more. On Top Gear tonight, there was a car being brought to the presenters on a low-loader. It was hidden under a cover so they couldn’t see what it was. Just before it was unveiled, I mentioned to my housemates that it looked a lot like a Renault Avantime – a car that’s pretty rare, especially in Britain. And thats what it was…

Tangent: Architects. How are they so rubbish? CAD drawings often have lots of layers; say for buildings, or white lines, or furniture, or drainage, or whatever. Engineers’ drawings are all generally right. Everything is in the right layer, and it makes sense. Whenever you get something from architects though, it’s a complete mess. You might have trees on the same layer as the half of the foul drainage, the rest of which is on the “levels” layer. Which also contains the title block, for some inexplicable reason. Someone told me the other day that they once got an architects’ drawing that had a completely different project they’d worked on, to one side of the actual project. The architect had pasted the old drawing into the new one, because they wanted to copy something from it. Probably the taps, or something else that real people delete so they can do proper work with it… Oh, also, they never purge them (i.e. get rid of layers, blocks etc that arent being used). I purged a 5mb drawing from an architect the other day, it got it down to about 3… Perhaps we expect too much. Another guy has told me about how he once had to explain to an Architect why exactly it is that water runs downhill…

None/little of that last paragraph will make sense to anyone who isn’t a Civil/Structural Engineer. Sorry.

This is a fairly non-post. But I couldn’t sleep and wanted to write something, so in that sense it’s served a purpose. Goodnight!

Posted In: EngineeringRandomRant | 4 Comments

Seriously, Who Uses Password as their AP Password?

Monday 18th August 2008

Poor, poor form. But at least I can do something at the train station after missing the train. That said theres some fairly hefty rain falling, which is making me fear for my Notebook’s safety, somewhat. Never mind, plough on.

I’m currently listening to the new Sigur Ros album, and have to say it’s fairly stunning. Rather unlike their previous efforts in a lot of ways, but really good nonetheless. I particularly like “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur” (means “within me a lunatic sings”). One of those songs which is just pure, unadulterated joy.

OK, so there was just an announcement over the station PA telling everyone to be careful because the platform might be wet. Honestly, if you can’t work that one out by yourself…

Anyway, stuff. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been working lately, which is the cause of the lack of blogging. To be honest a lot of the time I’ve not really had anything to say. And then when I have had stuff to say, I’ve just not been awake enough to say it. Pretty frustrating, to be honest.

I enjoy working in some ways. Gets me out of the house, gets me money, etc. That said lots of things about this job annoy me, and I really can’t wait to start a “proper” job in September. It might not be immediately clear what I mean by that, but it’s one of the things on my to-do list as far as this thing is concerned. Actually I started writing about it the other day, but… C’est la vie.

I was back in Cardiff last week for reasons previously mentioned. Something that annoyed me about that actually is that for the first time I sat the exam, revision was something I didn’t particularly like doing and the material didn’t make all that much sense to me. This time round, I really enjoyed revising (it was like doing a more useful sudoku, if that makes sense), and had no trouble motivating myself. Of course part of that is possibly down to there being no second chances this time, but I dont think it was completely down to that. Irritating.

Anyway, Cardiff. I drove there, and it’s the first time that I’ve really driven round there (I drove there once a couple of years ago, but that doesnt count for several reasons). As I was driving around the city, I realised that it felt really alien, as if I hadn’t been there before and didn’t know it that well. Probably because it felt completely different seeing and feeling it from the car. On familiar roads you get used to how they feel; where the bumps are, the texture of the road, how things work etc. It kinda felt nicer from the driver’s seat than it does from the pavement, but thats more down  to the quality of the paving in Cardiff…

Wow, I’m rambling now.

So yeah, as well as that alienness there was also a proper recognition of the place, as you’d expect considering the fact that I’ve (mostly) lived there for a couple of years now. Driving around, seeing lots of different places brought back some of the memories from the last couple of years. Sort of “oh, I remember doing such and such here”. It was nice, if a little weird when combined with the unfamiliarity I was feeling.

Still doesn’t feel like home though. When I’m on the motorway and I see a sign for The Midlands, it just feels like “That way be home”. Don’t feel that when I see a sign for Cardiff.

Train o’Clock. Bye

Posted In: CarsGeekMusicRandomSiteStuff Tagged: | 8 Comments

Another Hustle Just To Make It Big

Thursday 24th July 2008

Tunnel of Love by Dire Straits is the best song ever. Fact.

I’ve been through a slight non-blogging phase lately. A few reasons for that. I’ve either wanted to write about something, but not wanted my writings on that something to be available freely on the Internet; or I’ve not had anything to write about; or I’ve wanted to write about things on which I’m more than happy for my writings to be freely available, but I’ve not been able to articulate what I’ve wanted to a sufficiently high standard that I could get my point across well.

In summary: Moping, Unimagination and Laziness.

Another reason is that I’ve been working for the last week, which is really rather tiring. I’m sure theres something wrong with the fact that I seem to work harder over my summer vacations than I do over the rest of the year, but there you go. I realised the other day that I’ve not had a completely free summer since about 2002. Weird.

Working’s been pretty good to me though, to be honest. For those who don’t know, I work in a bank as a cashier. I first did it when I was 16, and looking back now at how I was then and now it’s probably one of the best things I’ve done, for a bunch of reasons. Mostly because the job I do is essentially a proper job that proper people do, rather than a “student” job (and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way towards other stuff btw). I’ve worked with all sorts of people from my age upto 60-odd – and obviously dealt with a nice array of customers – and I think it’s whats largely responsible for turning the shy, nervy 16 year-old I was into the slightly less shy, chilled-out 20 year-old I am now.

Theres a few of the customers in the branch I’m in at the moment who can’t work out how to use the front door. This isnt important, but I just felt you ought to know.

This is probably the last year I’ll be working in the bank. Next year I’ll be doing proper work, and who knows what I’ll be doing the year after. I’m considering doing an MSc after I graduate, and I was thinking about what sort of course I want to do. Research or taught? What area? Do I wanna do it somewhere other than Cardiff? Lots of choices.

I was also thinking about my car the other day. I’ve just got mine back on the road (first time I can drive regularly for a couple of years), and I was thinking of getting a different car in a few months. And then I looked at insurance. It’s frustrating, because I can afford some pretty decent cars, but the insurance is… Well I probably could afford it, but I’m not paying £2500-£5000 for it (admittedly the larger quote was for a Fiat Coupe. With the 20v turbo engine…). Ho hum. Might just keep what I’ve got.

I’ve also been thinking about racing a lot lately. Actually, since the British Grand Prix a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about Lewis Hamilton an awful lot. I’m probably gonna write another entry about that though, so I wont say much for now, other than: wow.

Tempted to pay to do a race weekend of some sort in the next year. I was thinking either karting, or possibly car racing in something like a Caterham. I’m almost definitely going to race when I’m in full-time work, because it’s something I love. Then, I’ll probably go karting to start with (cheaper…), but for a one-off I’m tempted to jump in the deep end. We’ll see.

Bleh, I’m tired. Should probably sleep. This has been a really awful entry, but as I’ve typed it (and think I should publish something), it’s going up. Sorry.

P.S. Theres also a few sites I keep meaning to add to the Blogroll. I’ll get round to it at some point, probably.

Posted In: CarsGeekMotorsportMusicRandomSleepStuff Tagged: | 1 Comment

The Thing About Watches Is That They’re Timeless

Sunday 18th May 2008

According to my Mum, in any case. Made me lol for quite a while after she said that to me on the phone earlier today.

Anyway, exams are almost over! I’ve almost certainly failed Friday’s though. The paper generally was troubling, but about 5 minutes before the end I realised that I’d done a fairly important part of the first question wrong. The question was basically work out the reactions for this (apologies for quality of drawing):

Arch Question

Working out the vertical reactions is easy, so I got that bit fine (frankly I deserve to be shot if I cocked that bit up, it’s AS-level stuff). But for the horizontal reaction, I got H=P. Which is just wrong, however way you look at it. I’d assumed my mistake was just an algebraic one (cancelling something by accident, or whatever). To work out the force, you assume the horizontal displacement at the supports is zero, and then you equate that with the partial derivative of the strain energy with respect to the force. You get a nice equation, do some whizzy maths stuff, and the force (hopefully!) drops out. One of the terms in the equation is the partial derivative of the moment with respect to force (H, in this case). My error, realised just before the end of the exam, was to differentiate wrt x…

Of course, getting that bit wrong meant that my answers for the next bits are wrong too.

For the first time in my exam-taking career, I was suitably pissed off that I wrote a note by the side of the mistake. “I realised with about 5 mins before the end of the exam that I should’ve differentiated wrt H, not x. This probably explains the silly answer on the next page…”


In other news… I think I’ve expressed my displeasure before with the fact that I’m gonna miss the Monaco Grand Prix next weekend, due to a field course. I’ve just come across this, which just annoys me even more. It’s one of the worst races of the season (because apparently it’s hard to overtake cars on a bumpy, twisty, narrow road at 150+mph…), but as a spectacle it’s fantastic, and it’s actually one of my favourites. Fast cars on essentially normal roads is not a sensible idea, for any sane person anyway, and watching the drivers there is just mind-bending:

In the wet, it’s something else. I’m gonna get Mum to record it at home, but that means avoiding news for a week (and no-one texting me the result…). Utterly annoying.

Posted In: MotorsportRandomStuff Tagged: | 10 Comments


Friday 9th May 2008

I was just reading a report of lecture given the other week. It says that the lecturer is an expert “in the area of child abuse”, and that this is “one that not many people specialise in”.

Well you’d hope not, really.

Posted In: Random | 4 Comments

Avoiding Work

Friday 9th May 2008

I went down to the library today to get some stuff done. Today’s topic was Structural Analysis and Solid Mechanics in general, and energy methods and matrix stiffness analysis in particular.

Matrix stiffness analysis is a way for working out the forces and displacement of an element using its stiffness, and it’s pretty much a bitch to do. You have a bunch of stuff and this big scary matrix, and it’s just annoying. When we were being taught the module, the lecturer barely had a clue how to do it himself. In fact, when he did example questions up on the board I seem to remember him getting it spectacularly wrong several times. I’m pretty sure there was the odd question he just couldn’t do, as well.

Apparently someone went to see him the other day with a question from a past exam, and he couldn’t do it. Basically, we’re screwed. I’m just hoping a question on fatigue comes up, because it’s a lot easier (20 marks for manipulating some logs? Yes please!)

Whilst I was in the library, I was sat across from a couple of third-year girls and once they saw what I was doing they started to remember the nightmare… Apparently the second year is actually harder than the third in some respects, which is weird. Didn’t really get much work done for a while once we started chatting (until someone asked us to be quiet. In the library? Crazy talk!), but did get some handy hints for the third year, with regards picking projects and modules and stuff like that.

Working in the library; all well and good, until you reach a critical mass of procrastination. Once you start talking to people, it’s hard to go back to work…

Not that I’ll remember the handy hints, anyway, cos I’ve just been offered a job. As of September I’m gonna be doing proper engineeringy stuff, in the real world, for money. Just need to pass the exams first, and preferably well enough to let me continue with the MEng course.

Ah crap.

Posted In: ProcrastinationRandom | 8 Comments

Avoiding Boredom

Wednesday 7th May 2008

So I’m trying to revise something, and need to go through some powerpoint slides, from some lectures. I don’t have the printed notes, so I got the file from Blackboard. It has animations and stuff, so I googled a way to strip them all out in one.

I came across this instead, and it amused me. I’m half tempted to send it to a handful of lecturers because they could really benefit from it. Especially the one who takes this module.

Last year, we had to give a presentation as part of one of our modules, and it was this lecturer who marked mine. This lecturer just dumps everything he says on the slides, and reads from that. Making him largely irrelevant. He criticised my presentation because there wasnt much written on some of the slides…

Death by Powerpoint. I really wish more people knew how to present properly. They just use it because it’s there, it doesnt actually add anything to their talk. If anything it detracts, because you just read the screen instead. Another bugbear: handouts that are just slide printouts. That’s just laziness.

I’m meant to be revising accountancy (well, more vision than revision). I’d rather be outside in the sun. Sigh.

Posted In: ProcrastinationRandom | 9 Comments

A Revelation: Smarter than a Caveman!

Friday 2nd May 2008

So I’ve spent the last few hours working on, alternately, design and maths coursework.

Design coursework doesn’t confuse me at all. I’ve got little bits here and there to tidy up, a report to write, and a drawing to print, and then it’s Done.

Maths does. I’ve just got back from the IT room after spending since about half 9 trying to get a bit of Matlab code to work, which is meant to solve the Heat Equation using an implicit finite difference method. I’ve got it working with an explicit method, and that’s all hunky dory, but adapting that code for the implicit method is just confusing. It’s only giving a solution on one row of the matrix; that row being the inital value being fed into the script! The rest of the matrix is just zero, which is less than useful.

At one point I commented out about half of the code, to work out what those lines were meant to be doing. No change, whatsoever. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Pretty much all of us in the IT room were trying to crack that thing (well, actually most had given up by the time I left), and all of us had the same problem. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

Basically, this is a lesson to not dick about with code if you only have a vague idea what it’s meant to do, and have what can be generously described as a “limited” knowledge of the language…

I guess its the same sort of result you’d get if you gave a car to a caveman and told him to make it go. He wouldn’t even know what the damn thing is meant to do, let alone how to make it do it. I imagine he’d just look at it, and maybe bash it with a stick, and then eventually get bored and walk off.

That said, I’ve worked out what my code is meant to do, and I kind of know how to do it, but just not enough to actually make Matlab do it. So I’m officially smarter than a Caveman!

Not saying much though, is it?

Anyway, I should go finish stuff! I’m probably not gonna sleep tonight. It’s gonna take me a couple of hours to finish design, then ages to finish maths, and then tomorrow morning I’ve got to meet the other members of my group for design to finish some stuff off and hand it in, so there’s probably no point sleeping, even if I get chance.

Actually, I’m looking forward to that meeting. One of them left me alone, logged on to his uni user account earlier (cos i needed to do battle with the Demon Plotter of Death, and AutoCAD doesnt seem to like to work on my user account. Bizarre, I know). Changed his desktop to say “NASCAR is for gays” (yeah, a form of motorsport I don’t like!), put a nice pink colour scheme on all the windows, and so on. Amused me highly. It’s not big, it’s not clever, and it’s probably highly immature (oh god, that word again…), but who cares?

Posted In: ProcrastinationRandomSleepStuff | 9 Comments