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Posts in Category: Random

A Conundrum

Monday 28th April 2008

If I try to do any work at my desk in my room, it doesn’t happen. I either gaze into space and listen to music, or watch a dvd, or play a game, or aimlessly browse the net, or something. But if I go down to the library, I manage to get loads done.

I have most of the same distractions, cos I take my Eee and my MP3 player with me. So I can still end up wasting time listening to music and browsing the net aimlessly, but I just don’t. I even sit next to the window, looking out over the green grass (and the train line. Ahem), and theres plenty of distraction there as people walk past on their way to/from lectures, or looking at the pretty shapes in the clouds. But instead I ended up writing a load of notes on English law and the court systems (for my Civil Engineering degree. Crazy talk! Incidentally, this amused me somewhat. The idea of trial by combat being an acceptable way to decide the outcome of a trial is delightfully mad. Shame they repealed the law, would’ve made Paul McCarthy vs Heather Mills somewhat entertaining. She could’ve knocked him out with her peg leg. Anyway, I digress).

Actually it’s not too much of a conundrum at all. My room-desk is just tiny. What with the monitors and speakers and keyboard and mouse and assorted desk-clutter, there’s really no room to work. Annoying.

I mentioned the Eee there, and it’s a really brilliant little tool for revision. Cos of its size, it’s really easy to carry in to uni in the first place, and then when you’re there it takes up a tiny proportion of the space of the desk, so it’s not in the way at all. A proper-sized laptop would be too heavy/bulky to carry in (along with all my other revision materials), and would take up a huge amount of the desk. As it is, the Eee is just the right size for looking up notes or past papers from the intranet, or for looking stuff up on t’net when your notes make no bloody sense (Wikipedia ftw!).

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Best Gadget Evar!

In other news, design coursework is proceeding nicely, and will be done in the next couple of days hopefully. Maths coursework is EVIL, and is probably going to take me as long as I’ve got (and probably a bit longer). Yesterday I did my first bit of ironing… well for years, really. My phone has just run out of credit, I need to go get food (yeh its late cos I got in from the library and started eating biscuits. Fail), and I didn’t get to sleep till 4am last night. Oops.

I don’t know why anyone would care about most of that last paragraph (I don’t), but meh. Meh, I say!

I’m already bored of the way this site looks. Theres a few things I like, a few things I don’t like, and a few things that are unforgivable. Theres also a few things I want to add to it anyway. I’ll probably change it when I have time/can be bothered (not soon then).

22 days till the end! (Excluding the field trip)

Posted In: GeekRandomSiteTechnology | 6 Comments

Playtime!

Tuesday 22nd April 2008

So I have a new toy.

Micro Helicopter

The helicopter, that is. The phone’s just there for scale (although that’s new too).

It’s pretty damn hard to control at first, but I’m getting better. My housemates must wonder what the hell I’m up to though when I’m playing with it. What with the whirring of the motors (think dentist’s drill and you’re not far off), and the noise of me jumping around the room to avoid the damn thing and then to collect it after the inevitable crash.

Good for smiles, bad for productivity.

Posted In: ProcrastinationRandomSleep | 5 Comments

Open the Pod Bay Doors…

Wednesday 19th March 2008

:-(

Fantastic author, I can’t begin to list how many good books he’s written. The Rama and 2001-3001 series stand out though, and are well worth reading. As are his short stories.

Actually, all his stories are well worth reading…

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
Clarke’s Third Law

R.I.P. Arthur.

Posted In: RandomTechnology Tagged: | 1 Comment

Braaaaiiinns!

Tuesday 18th March 2008

First, a continuation of the last entry: Holy Crap that was a good race. I got up at 4am (after an hour’s sleep. Ahem) to watch it (thus missing all the nauseating pre-race buildup, yesss!) and the didn’t feel at all tired watching it, cos of all the excitement. If the rest of the season is half as good as that race, I’ll be happy.

Anyway… I should’ve written this entry a while ago, but I had a bunch of other stuff to do at the time and by the time I didn’t have to do that stuff any more, I forgot I was going to write this. Oops.

So a while back, a Derren Brown show called The System was broadcast on C4. The premise of the show was that he’d worked out a 100% foolproof way for someone to win on the horses. The first part of the programme is concerned with how he gave tips anonymously to this (extremely irritating) woman, and how they were right each time. She gets confidence in The System, to the point where he persuades her to place one final bet for as much money as she can get together, on whichever horse he predicts will win the race. Theres some experiment/tricky bits he does as well, outside of the horse thing, to convey ideas about probability, for instance tossing a fair coin 10 times in a row and getting heads each time. He says that “the key to understanding this [trick], is the key to understanding the system”. Which really is a big hint…

After the woman places the last bet, Brown tells us how the system works. Basically, it’s a pyramid scheme; you start with a big group of people, split them into n groups (where there are n horses running in the same race), and assign each group a horse. You then tell each group that you “predict” that horse will win the race. After that, take the winning group and do it again, and again, and again. Until you end up with one person who happened to be in all the winning groups and has therefore seen a string of correct “predictions”. The person who you tell to get as much money together to place it on (effectively) a random horse…

I’ve probably summed the programme up badly, but the idea of it wasn’t to prove that there is or is not a system for winning at the horses. The idea was to basically show up faith.

The woman in the film (and by extension, the viewer, since we only see her perspective of events) assumes that there really is a system; that Derren Brown really can predict which horse will win a given race. But that’s because we can only see part of the story – we only see the one in 8000 who happens to get lucky at each level of the pyramid. The point is that to have faith in something, whether it be homeopathic remedies, religion, or in this case a system for winning at the horses, requires a certain amount of ignoring the bigger picture. The point Derren Brown is trying to get across is that just because we perceive something to be so, that doesn’t necessarily mean that our perception is correct.

The example given in the show is that of homeopathic medicine (the sort of thing where the medicines basically consist of water), but it applies to any sort of religious faith. One of the (many) things that annoys me about religion (or faith, or whatever you want to call it) is exactly this point. To believe in a religion – doesnt matter which one – requires you to blindly accept certain things. Whether that be a story of creation, a certain moral code, or simply the notion of a God, its the same thing. And that sort of blind acceptance is at best foolish, at worst downright dangerous.

As so deftly explained by xkcd (and thats quite coincidental, cos I started this post before that cartoon was published), the core of science is the notion that ideas – any ideas – are tested by experiment. You shouldn’t accept facts just because someone says they are true, or because they were written down in a book thousands of years ago. It’s so irritating when you have an argument about religion with, say, a Christian, and every response they come up with is prefaced with the phrase “well, the Bible says…”. I don’t want to know what the Bible says, I want to know what you say!

OK, excluding extremists (who are just nuts), it all seems slightly innocent for some people to be religious, doesn’t it? If it brings comfort to them, if it gets them through the day, surely thats fine? Well no, it isnt. The very core of a religious viewpoint is this ability to accept without question; to do without thinking. It leads to flawed logic, to arbitrary judgements, to conflict. If more people accepted a more “scientific” frame of mind, the world would be a better place.

Basically, religion = bad. When I’m in charge, it’ll be classified as a mental illness…

Posted In: MotorsportProcrastinationRandom Tagged: | 3 Comments

Cooped Up

Tuesday 11th March 2008

After I went home last time, I said I liked getting away from the University bubble. By that, I didn’t just mean getting away from uni work and whatnot. I also meant that it was nice to have a change from being in the same old place all the time.

One of the things I miss most about being at Sixth Form is, weirdly, getting there and back. The drive first thing in the morning was a really good way of waking myself up gently, of getting myself ready for the day. The route I used to use took me from home, along a dual carriageway (nice little blast of speed first thing in the morning, always good for the soul), and then I used to turn off that and take a twisty little back route over Clent, which was really enjoyable. The change of scenery along that route (from relatively busy town roads to quiet country ones) was really nice, especially at this time of year. Coming back was even better. Because I could take as long as I wanted to get back (within reason), I used to vary the route sometimes. Half days were great, because I took the opportunity to take the longer way home – a game I used to play was when following another car and approaching a junction, go the opposite way to the car in front. Even if it’s the wrong way. They say a change is as good as a rest, and it really is true.

I don’t think it’s just that aspect of the commute that I miss though. When I was working last summer, it involved an hour-long journey to get there. Most times I got a lift in, but I had to get the train in a decent amount of the time too. And, to be honest, I got sort of the same kind of enjoyment from that. I enjoyed watching the world go by outside the window, watching the other people on the train (oh come on, who doesnt?), and just having the time to chill out and relax. I’m not sure why it’s any different to chilling out and relaxing at home, but it is.

I think I just enjoy movement. It’s the reason I hate air travel, I think. I’m not afraid of crashing or anything like that – I know I have more chance of being killed by a pair of trousers than by a plane crash – and I like the height. But air travel is just so dull. You sit there a few miles above the ground and hurtling along at a few hundred miles an hour, but you feel as if you’re still on the ground. Except you’re in an unacceptably uncomfortable chair, and your ears are gonna hurt for a few hours after you get out.

But then, I’m probably the only person who likes being on a boat in heavy seas…

Anyway, I’ve strayed from the point. It’s not just the physical sensation of movement that I liked about the commute to school. At Uni, everything I do is centred within a relatively small area. Uni itself is 10 minutes walk away, friends houses are max 20 minutes away, town is 15 minutes away. And that’s good, I suppose, but I get a bit claustrophobic about it all. Especially given that so much of the city, apart from the centre, looks so similar (and, it has to be said, a little dreary). Sometimes I just want to see something new.

Posted In: Random | 7 Comments

Waxing Lyrical, Reprised

Thursday 6th March 2008

In that post, I talked about Heima.

Well, Sigur Ros are taking over YouTube tomorrow, and as part of it, guess what’s being shown in full… Or don’t guess, click the link and find out.

Dunno how good the quality will be (it’s YouTube…), but well worth watching at least some of whats up there, if you have the time.

(I think this post could be tagged stmtm. Am I correct?)

Posted In: MusicRandom Tagged: | No Comments

New treatment discovered to improve efficacy of all medicines

Thursday 17th January 2008

It was announced today that a new treatment has been discovered which, it is claimed, can help improve the effectiveness of any medicine. The treatment is an additive to be taken orally at the same time as the medicine, and in a recent field trial in London it was found that patients who took the supplement at the same time as their medicine recovered up to three times faster than those who did not.

“The supplement acts with the medicine to help it enter the body much better” said Dr Poppins, who led the project at the Dover Institute for Scientifically New and Exciting Yarns (DISNEY). “Literally a single spoonful helps any medicine go down” she added.

The additive, which has already been hailed a “miracle drug” by doctors, has been revealed to be nothing more than pure sugar. However in approving the treatment, the National Insititute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) warned against doctors overprescribing it. “This is an amazing find, and everyone at DISNEY is to be applauded” commented Dr. Banks, a member of the Institute, “however we are concerned at the risk of medicines becoming immune to the sugar, in a similar way to bacteria and antibiotics. The treatment should, we feel, be prescribed only in the worst cases”.

The announcement has, however, prompted concerns from Weight Concern. “This idea is completely prepostorous!” Mr Kevin Burke, a spokesman for the charity said today. “This scheme is likely to increase obesity rates by 88%, especially amongst children. This is wholly unacceptable, and we suggest that members of the public should refrain from taking any medicine, just in case the excess sugar leads them to put on weight. We don’t want Britain to turn into a nation of stupid ugly fatties, like America”.

Dr Poppins responded that this is “poppycock of the highest order!” and added that “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. The medicine go down. The medicine go down! In a most delightful way”.

The NHS is reluctant to introduce the new treatment due to its expense.

Posted In: Random | 2 Comments

Worried/amazed/confused

Monday 14th January 2008

I’m trying to work out why anyone could think this is anything other than a horrendously bad idea.

It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to see on The Peter Serafinowicz Show…

Posted In: ProcrastinationRandom Tagged: | No Comments

Things I Probably Should Stop Doing

Tuesday 4th December 2007

1. Bad Sleeping patterns.
So, so messed up at the moment.

2. Scratching…
…my eczema.

3. Air drumming.
It doesnt look good.

4. Air drumming in the car.
And it’s not safe, either.

5. Leaving my washing till the last minute.
I have a heap of stuff I need to wash now but I’m probably gonna have to do 2 loads, cos it probably won’t fit in one. And I probably won’t have space to dry it all. Crap, I just remembered meant to do that today, actually. Oh well.

Wow, I bet you REALLY wanted to know that…

6. Boring people by talking about racing.
Heh: I can see you’re bored, but I still keep talking about it.

7. Making bad jokes.
Sometimes, I say things, and I can see people start to hate me – dodgy puns especially have this effect. It’s a wonderful achievement.

As an aside, there’s a slim subset of the population who find those sort of jokes amusing. These are the best type of people, I feel.

8. Speaking without thinking.
I sometimes swear too much without thinking. I tend to throw around (friendly!) insults a lot. I’m somewhat opinionated, and throw my opinion around a lot. This behaviour can offend some people. These people are the worst type of people, I feel.

9. Your Mom.
I’m joking…

…she pays too well for me to seriously consider stopping.(This probably comes under No. 7)

10. Procrastination.
Speaking of which, I need to get back to a lab report…

(of these, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 dont need to change. Only 1,2,5 and 10 do.)

Mundane post, sorry.

As an aside, don’t you hate it when someone says something to you, and a few hours later you come up with a brilliantly witty response? I did that the other day – I was lying in bed and this perfect one-liner just flashed into my mind. I was amused and annoyed by myself in equal quantities. Oh well.

Posted In: ProcrastinationRandomRantSleep | 4 Comments

Seeing Orange

Sunday 18th November 2007

So I just had to top up my phone. I won’t name the network, but lets call them Yellow. Usually when I top up, I just use their website and do it all online. Takes a couple of minutes, and saves me getting up off my lazy arse. Anyway, apparently the site is closed at the moment for maintenance(!), so I called up to do it that way.

Anyone who uses Ora-, I mean Yellow, PAYG knows that they’ve just redone all their phone menus with a different, friendlier-sounding person. And that’s fine, but I think they’ve tried to re-do it all to make it sound like you’re actually dealing with a real person. Some of the things she “says” are exactly the same things that ill-educated dolts say to try to sound polite. Like, after I enter my details, and how much to top up, “I’ll just put that through for you…”. Okay, fair enough, but do you have to then, 3 seconds later, say “I’m just putting that through for you”, just to fill the silence? As if I’m sat with the phone to my ear, thinking “damn, what am I actually doing here?” and need reminding that something is happening? NONONO!

Finally, when it’s all done, does it have to say “By the way, did you know you can also use our website to top your phone up?”…

AAARRRGGGHHH!

Actually, one of the less painful phone menu things that I’ve used. Some of the ones I’ve used at work are just.. urgh.

Anyway, I need to finish drawing a flow net. Joy!

Posted In: ProcrastinationRandomRantTechnology | 5 Comments