February! You here already? Uh. Bye…

Yeah, everything’s kinda got into a rush. I’m technically working on a write-up of the Wedding for that blog, but I got stalled by Christmas. Betimes, everything around here is looking very snazzy and new! (Unless you’re reading this by RSS, in which case it probably looks about the same as normal).

I’m trying to work out what’s been keeping me so busy since the wedding, but I’m actually not sure.

I’m trying to work out what’s been keeping me so busy since the wedding, but I’m actually not sure. I’ve given over a bundle of evenings lately to training with the Red Cross, who run a Fire and Emergency Support Service – basically the old Secret Society coupled to Ghostbusters; we get summonsed by Firemen in the middle of the night, and turn out in an awesome little mobile home van to make tea and provide clothing and such to people whose houses have caught on fire. I’m finally through the basic paperwork and things, so I get to start shadowing people now (assuming there’s a shout on a day when I’m on the rota, leastways). More information on them here, if you’re interested.

As a side effect, I’ve been poking about on the Internet in a bid to find a ringtone which is liable to wake me in the event I do get summonsed by a Fireman at 3am, and have given myself no end of heebie-jeebies by learning about the HANDEL system.

For example, I have discovered that there were three kinds of Alert that might be given out in or during a nuclear attack: Attack Warning Red (a wavering alarm on the system) All Clear Attack Warning White (a 30 second steady blast on the alarm) and Fall Out Warning Attack Warning Black (Three blasts on a whistle, or gong, or similar, presumably because by the time you need to warn about actual fall out, there’s damn all else left). Creepy. Not Vault 106 creepy, I guess, but still pretty creepy.

Work is pretty frantic at the moment because one of my colleagues is about to vanish away to South Africa for an extended holiday, and various system migrations have been giving us periodic bursts of forced downtime, which has nominally reduced the amount of work we can do (I say nominally, because what I actually mean is it’s reduced the time we can throw at the main profiling side of things; we’ve still been able to run reports and go on weeding expeditions to dig out books that have hidden themselves away. It’s often more frustrating, but I like it when you finally run something to earth: last week I found a 60 page playscript that had gleefully snuck itself underneath a 250-page cased hardback atlas on one of the rearmost shelves in the warehouse. If someone could train sniffer dogs to distinguish by ISBN, they’d make a fortune…).

I’ve also begun learning German – right now I can only really say things like ‘Das is keine kartoffel! Das is ein Fernseher,’ and ‘Der Apfel ist dort,’ but it’s a marked improvement on my previous vocabulary, which was pretty much ‘Anschluss’, ‘Waffenstillstand’, and ‘I.G. Farben’, with a side helping of ‘Ich bin ein Berliner‘ once we got that far through the syllabus (although, now I come to think of it, I.G. Farben was an A-level thing), which leaves me wondering what German kids pick up in the way of course-related vocab.

In order to get to German more effectively, I’ve started cycling again, and am quite enjoying it. Actually I even managed to enjoy it on Friday, when Isis went in for a service, and to get new tyres. I did a bit of calculation and worked out that all things being equal, I could cycle to work in less time that it would take on the bus (Doy. Buses are an appaling way to get around Oxford. Having dropped the car off for a service on Thursday I had to catch a bus home from German, and had just about bought a ticket and sat down in the ammount of time it would have taken me to cycle home. Surprisingly I didn’t miss the delay so much as the actual ride; apparently I didn’t so much stop enjoying biking as cease to have the time to manage it).

I figured that even over a distance of six miles, biking to work would be fairly simple, because Oxford is made entirely out of Flat Bits, but it turns out there’s actually a fairly drawn-out slope between Marston & the Headington Roundabout, which really wore me out. It was better on the way back, though, because I went past a lorry stuck in the queue for the Roundabout traffic lights, and then went past him again when I’d both finally crossed the roundabout, and my cycle path had rejoined the side of the ring-road. I am not sure he liked that very much, because after I’d gone past him the second time, he seemed to drop down a gear and floor it, but there we go. I’d actually forgotten how much fun it is to cycle downhill very fast, but I recommend it. Um.

Oh, yes, and this blog got hammered with spam recently. Started out as a couple of comments a day which I had to come and mark as spam manually, and then it peaked at around 60 comments in three minutes, at which point I got hopping mad with it, and managed to lure Dan into doing some general update work, as a result of which, everything’s looking rather snazzy. A few stray bits of wobbly formatting on old posts, but I don’t mind that much. And I rather like the top photo, which is a view from the Wrekin over towards Wales, which is always nice.

So, yeah. There’s a very brief overview of everything I could think of. More coherent updates ideally arriving in the not-too-distant future…

From ‘Cataloguing rules as party conversation’ to ‘Reports in relation to RPGs.’ All the fun that’s fit to Mark As Read, huh?

Eech. I should be working on a report, at this moment in time: essentially Your university is going to launch foundation degrees, how will this affect the library & the readers?. I hate that sort of stuff, because whilst I realise that we’re supposed to be demonstrating the use of the theory, I don’t feel comfortable making up backstory in order to have a platform on which to stand everything else. It’s a ‘pre 1992 university,’ apparently, and that’s about all the guidance we get.

That is not enough guidance, I feel: from there I can say anything from ‘but the library building was completely re-done with corporate sponsorship in 1998 and has seven floors, complete with Student Shop and Coffee Bar on the entry level, Floor 5’ to ‘the library is housed in the Old Building, is Grade I listed and has the unique feature of two floors, each with a periodical gallery, originally designated to house the Arts and the Natural Sciences. The central Loans Desk has been left as it was, though admin work now takes place at a new desk, installed opposite the exit. The University is currently discussing arrangements for external access to the second floor for disabled students, but it severly limited by the various prevervation orders in place.’

…The problem, basically, is that I want the briefing for this report to be Oblivion, and what I’ve got is Morrowind. Oblivion is a fantastic game, and I really do enjoy playing it. Morrowind may well be a good game, but I could never get into it, because it was too open ended.

At the start of Oblivion, you’re in clink, but you get let out by narrative imperative the Emperor, who happens to need the escape route in your cell, and who dies almost as soon as you’ve had chance to collect one of each base weapon class, learn how to sneak, pick a lock and work your way back to the plot. For reasons best known to himself, he gives you the Amulet of the Maguffin, the token of his Emperordom, and tells you to push off and find a monk who knows where his illegitemate-but-everyone-else-in-the-family-is-dead Son is. At which point, you can either do so, or wander off and do open-ended things. It’s a nice obvious quest hook, and you can catch it, or not, or catch it later as the mood takes you.

At the start of Morrowind, as far as I can recall, you get off a boat, wander through an administation building, and get told that there’s a guy who lives over in Villagetown and you should go and see him. Doing so results in his suggesting you work for him, possibly for some secret reason. Go and do a minor quest in Noobsville, quoth he, and then… uh… yeah, I dunno. There doesn’t seem to be a main quest there. Now bear in mind the first computer games I ever played were Hillsfar, Spellcasting 201 and Paperboy 2. I like obvious objectives in games. I’ve grown to enjoy the freedom of open-ended stuff, it’s amazing to be able to do something in some place and reap the consequences later – which is why Deus Ex was so mindblowing for me – but it’s nice to have a solid known objective you can fall back on, not only to get you started, but to give you something to aim for once wandering in the wilderness gets dull.

And having to make up my own character backstory in a piece of academic work kinda bugs me: what if I go with Option A, and say “based on the findings of the various studies we’ve done (qv), perhaps we can devote the fourth floor to books for Foundation Degrees, and create a seperate collection there,” and then go on to discuss advantages and limitations and things, and Juanita decides that she’s never heard anything so retarded in her life because what the Hell was I thinking imagining more than three floors anyway, why haven’t I talked about the crushing space constrictions affecting the library service?


Of course, I know what’s going to happen: I’m going to Exposit it to within an inch of it’s life; this report to the Vice Chancellor is going to be the library equivilant of Chapter One, the one that goes

“As you know, your father – the King – had no other children. I greatly fear that this attack by Mordok was intended to kill you too. For if you are not present at the Celebrations tomorrow you will be declared dead and Mordok will seize power!”

and to which the only possible answer is

“Faithful old Knight, the only person who apparently knows the secret way out of the Castle – although I’d like to point out that it’s also a secret way into the castle, and how did Mordok’s forces manage to get past the seventeen well-defended gates unoticed anyway? Fine, fine, we’ll leave that to page two-hundred and sixty-seven – but, Allegedly Faithful Old Knight Who Was Always Passed Over By My Father For The Stewardship, I know all that. What, you think I lived just long enough to fulfil the Prophecy and make some Outcast Friends With Secret Knowledge without spotting the lack of siblings!? Dude, lay off the musty tomes already. Nice mysterious sigil ring, by the way. Why’s it glowing ominously red?”

But I’ll feel bad about doing it.

And anyway, I want to be working on my Dissertation reasearch, but I can’t really do that before I pass Part 1!

Still, in other news: have my eye on a job which would be awesome. Shall have to wait and see…


Just got off the phone with a very nice lady from Orange, who was conducting a customer survey. (I’m not normally a fan of such things, but I quite want an N900 when my contract comes up for renewal, so I thought I’d try to get a gold star.)

The basic stuff for the survey was home security, and things – how worried are you about home security, do you check up on your home whilst you’re away, and so on. Standard 1-5 scale stuff, really.

Where I think I won’t have been useful is in the second half of the survey: of course I said I was fairly keen on keeping my home secure (although I wasn’t very fussed to check on it if I wasn’t there), but part 2 seemed to be about things I could do with a mobile to increase home security: would I like, for example, to turn off an alarm remotely, or be texted whenever someone entered or left my home, or be able to unlock the doors by text (I’m pretty sure there was also one about turning on the heating, so I guess thermostats are going out of fashion).

Sadly, this was the point in the survey where I jumped from looking like someone who is broadly in favour of home security, to being someone who wants nothing to do with it. No, I bloody don’t want any yahoo with access to my phone to unlock the doors to my house and turn off all the alarms: if I leave my phone unattended on a desk for five minutes today, and then I come back and it’s still there, I don’t have to phone the police. I’d pretty much like to keep it that way, but a 1-5 scale doesn’t really allow for that sort of clarification (and, to be honest, the ability to be texted if something moves in my home is just plain creepy. Have you people never watched Electric Dreams, or something?)

I’m just a little bit confused by the whole thing, to be honest. The woman running the survey was lovely – I think she was slightly confused by my answering all the questions that went “Would you like $suspicious_loophole_technology?” with a one or a two right after I’d answered all the “are you comfortable installing computer software/devices* on your home computer” with fives, but really… text me whenever someone enters or leaves my house? In what way does that increase security?

I figure that being the case, I either know who it is (say, Paul), or I can guess (possibly Ryan) or I have no idea (might be robbers, but what can I do, huh? Call the rozzers and tell ’em that my phone told me someone opened my door and I’m not sure who it was? Or do I have to opt for the frankly creepy-sounding CCTV-in-the-house which I (and probably Orange, or anyone who’s nicked my phone or got into the system some other way) can then view from my phone.

Now I feel bad for being unhelpful in a survey; I strongly suspect that I’ve just completely thrown the results. Eh, but what can you do? Would be vaguely interested to know if it’s just me that thinks this is A Bad Thing, though – am I missing the bit where some latter-day Mr. McKittrick comes up with a bunch of failsafes, or what?

*I’m not sure if by “Devices” she meant CPUs, extra RAM, new expansion cards et sim., but I assumed she did, because I couldn’t think of any other interpretation that wouldn’t just be embarrasing this side of plug & play.

‘nother update.

I continue to be crazy busy. It is not all bad, though, for I was able to go to the Gregynog Colloquium, which involved a large number of the Aberystwyth delegation getting merrily drunkish. Also, I entered a charity raffle, buying a strip of tickets for a fiver, and consequently won a not unrespectable digital camera (8 MP, SDHC, 2x AA Batteries – the last means it’s not something I’d buy at full cost, but for £5 I’m hardly about the chuck it up on eBay!) I was pleased about that.

There were massive floods in Newtown. I mean *massive*. Ended up red-lining poor Miriam, in first, with the clutch about two thirds out because 7,000 rpm was the only way to force through the wave of water that was coming over the bonnet and hitting the windscreen while still forcing enough gas through the exhaust that water didn’t back up and smother the engine. Even then she nearly gave out three times. It was more nerve-wracking than Stafford, although if I’d not survived the floods there I might’ve just attemped to push her to the nearest dry ground…

Outside Newtown, though, everything was fine. Rotten little dorp. That said, for those of us who know the incline of the drive at the Uberflat, two days later I got into the car, released the handbrake and, er, went nowhere. Loud clunking noise as we started moving, so I ran her through the carwash and that seemed to fix it; I assume the axles were caked with mud, or something.

Things I have discovered recently:

1. Death and the Maiden is being re-run, starting from the first strip. It is awesome, you should read it. The Sequel is also being re-run from its first strip at the same time. I find this incredibly annoying, because I now have to make the choice between reading both strips at once, or going back and picking up 2 afterwards. Sigh.

2. The awesome, whose recent posts include Episode One Confessional, The Ghostbusters are horrible people and (my favourite of those I’ve seen so far) Belle: Princess, or not Princess, which features an awesome examination of the local political situation around the Beast’s castle.

3. I am in serious danger of ruining my librarian credentials by reading all manner of security books. Admittedly, I’m not too far in, but I’m already at the point where I can see Scheir quoted in Mitnik and remember having read the book that quote comes from a week before. This pleases me, but it doesn’t sit too well with the stereotype. On the other hand, nor does wanting a resolution greater than 8×6, so I’m not too fussed about that.

4. I have probably got a little work next year, which won’t see me rolling in money but, equally, won’t leave me completely devoid of food. I hope.

Anyway, back to it…

I should’ve gone to bed (but the whisky isn’t gone)*

‘s been a good Easter, so I’ll start with that. Food & company and a surfeit of neither which gave me some space for a bit of Quiet, which is always a worthwhile use of time, especially around now.

Also, we went out to Cwm Rheidol and hunted Easter eggs. (Our own, of course; we didn’t just show up expecting them to be there already). Slight issue with swathes of the countryside having been inexplicably closed, but we found a space in the end, and it was really quite fun.

Birthdays & Purchases
I’ve turned 24. Which isn’t an especially exciting sentence, let’s be honest. I don’t think I’m due another birthday that feels like it might be important for at least six years, and possibly not for another eighteen; my 43rd will feel creepy, I’m pretty sure, but other than that each year kinda feels the same as every other. I’ve probably said that before; it’s a perennial complaint. (Pause for laugh)

Still, people have been very nice and given me everything from beer to periodicals subscriptions, and Ruth has very kindly chucked me a small pile of cash, with which I’ve bought a microcomputer. Well… yeah, OK, so I’ve technically owned very-very-late-era Microcomputers for years, but I can’t keep track, these days, of what’s a Laptop, what’s a Netbook and what’s a Small One Of The Above, so I’m going with Microcomputer because I know what one of those is.

Anyway, I had been going to get an S101 on the grounds that it’s called an S101, which is Teh Awesome. (Because – as if anyone needs telling – S101 was the directory name for Spellcasting 101: Sorcerors Get All the Girls, the precursor to the fab S201 & S301 by Steve Meretzky. All, quite literally, Legend-ary.)

So, yeah, the S101: it’s woefully underspecced for modern games (but would play old DOS stuff fine; see what I did there?) and I liked the fact it got essentially decentdecent reviews (for something built for battery life rather than speed) and I knew what I’d call it even before it turns up, which saves all that tedious umm-ing and ahh-ing.

Anyway, I’m not getting one of those. I’m getting an NC10 which has better battery life, costs less money, exists in a spiffy blue colour and gets even better reviews.

I’m still going to call it Ernie, mind.

The point to this, however, is pretty much that it can’t do very much, but is small and handy for carting about. Also, the NC10 comes with a closer-to-normal-size keyboard & a small hard-drive which puts it ahead of the rest of the minilapbook genre which seem reluctant to give you space to install anything very much. So it’s portable, won’t do [as much in the way of ] games to distract me [compared to a proper tower] and is easy to type on. If you didn’t know me better you might think I intended to get some actual proper work done next year, no?

If the machine has a downside I’ve not already factored in, it’s that it doesn’t come with 3G, which means if I need Internets on the go, I’ll have to create an unwieldy lash-up from my phone, Nokia PC Suite and a short length of USB cable, but I think I’ll be able to cope. Ruth proposes to teach me SVN-ing, so that’s promising.

I’m looking forward to the Masters, but I’m a little worried about the state of the profession – we had a meeting on Spy Weds. wherein it was revealed that we’ve not got a bean. This was pretty much the case at my previous place of work (although, in fact, their defecit appeared to be even larger), so I’m a little concerned that there may be employers out there who won’t be able to pay me.

But I figure I’m awesome, so they’ll find the money somewhere.

Tech Generally
Went back to Newport on Saturday, and miserably failed to fix the computer there – something very strange seems to have happened to it; it’s in need of a full-re-install, I think. In a bid to save myself an extra trip, I’m going to attempt to guide people there through a re-install. Worst case, I have to go back (which I would anyway, if I didn’t attempt this first), so I figure it’s worth a shot.

I move to SSEL on Monday. Fewer Readers to deal with, more Spreadsheets. At present I’m not really sure how that balances out, but we’ll see how it goes. I have to say I rather enjoyed quite a lot of being in Lending; the Thin Red Line stunt got a bit dull the fifth time it was myself & one other person (normally Annette) holding the fort, but only a little.

Had to work Maundy Thursday, which was shoddy since it was my Birthday, which is shoddy, but I ended up glad I did, as we had a vagueish academic come in and start asking me questions, who turned out to be a Bodley reader, so that was nice. I do miss the old place, strangely. (That is, strangely if you only recall my experience of the place before they got my eyes tested, when I appeared to be of the Fail for no reason I could work out. After I could actually read what I was typing I really enjoyed it.)

Wow, I’ve rambled all over the place again. And Storm Front just looped round, Tell you what: I’ll throw in a few semi-themed headers and push off to bed, how’s that sound?

*Sounds like a song title, dunnit? Well, it would if it started with ‘you’ rather than ‘I’. Something melancholic and slow, I think. Or something very bouncy and fast and miserable as sin. Both good.

I love the smell of coaligned opinions in the morning!*

Just to point out that if you don’t already follow Shamus Young‘s stuff, you really should.

*I think something like this got said in some sort of war film, or something, at some point. But you’re more than welcome to not cite it, this time.

The Moriarty of Bexleyheath

[Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, or anything, mind. I’m not even working shifts in the Law Library till after April. I speak colloquially, because I dunno what the legal definition of a tosspot is, though the colloquial one is totally this guy.]

Today on ElectricQuaker:

The Napoleon of Crime Vs. (Wellington) in: The Wobbly-Headed Doll Caper!!

Yes, indeed, ladies & gentlemen! Today you can thrill! at the tale of a criminal!

A criminal whose dastardly plots know no restraint, whose cruel machinations know no mercy, whose fiendish mind knows no thought!

…Or, to put it another way, who’s a right pain in the arse, because I’ve had to lock down my credit card because of him. Git.

On my way home from work on Friday (I got sent home ill, which is always annoying) I checked my email & found “Paypal” had sent me an email telling me I’d added a new address. There was a second email telling me I’d authorised a payment.

‘Huh.’ I thought ‘that’s some convincing-looking phishing, there. I guess I’ll report it.’ So I did.

A bit later Paypal replied to say, basically ‘Yep, that was phishing. Good on yer for reporting it,’ and I crashed out for the rest of the day.

Being as I was ill, my sleep patterns were all to pot, so I was awake again at midnight, and took a bath (and a hot toddy made, disgracefully, with Bowmore single malt, for we had no blend in the house), and idly fired up the computer to see how the Internet had managed to cope without me for the past six hours.

Naturally, I checked my email accounts, and I was surprised to find another email from Paypal, this time saying ‘O, hai. Your payment, we haz it.’

…This one was even more convincing than the other two; no ‘Dear customer,’ here: there was my name, all correct & shipshape, and… the last four digits of my credit card number…?

So I forwarded that to Paypal as well, along with a message that said ‘This really is just some clever phishing device, right?’ and pointed a new browser window at Paypal and went and logged in.

(This is where our criminal mastermind comes in, this is)

Somehow, somebody broke into my Paypal account, added a new address (which is presumably serving as a drop; if it transpires it’s actually their home address I will actuallyLOL), and made off with a valuable consignment of, er, Boots aren’t allowed to tell me what it is because of the Data Protection Act.

Since Paypal automatically notifies me when somebody does, for example, randomly tell them that I live in London now in case it isn’t me doing it I’m not really sure why they thought this would work, but they evidently did, because otherwise I’d have an inbox slightly-less-full of emails claiming I was editing my own account. The only equivilant I can think of is trying to theive a wallet that somebody’s got chained to their own trousers; they’re likely to notice once it starts to pull, you know…

Gormless though the theft may be, I’ve still had to scramble all my passwords, boosting them up from mixed-case alphanumerics of 6-10 characters to mixed case 12 character-plus jobs, have got myself a GPG key with which I’m slowly starting to encrypt things and I’m having to do without cards because, of course, they all have to be changed now because some poxy git couldn’t be bothered to pay for his own sodding vaseline and spot cream.

And I really don’t know how they got in. Grumble. Although as far as I know, the Met., Boots, Paypal, Dyfed-Powys police & the Bank are all looking into it (which would give me more comfort if it didn’t sound just a bit like the plot synopsis for an Ealing Comedy…) Spoke to a chap from the police down in London the other day, actually, he was nice & friendly & seemed to think I was likely to get the money back, at least.

Still a pain in the arse, though.

Those of you with GPG keys, point me in the right direction & I’ll see if I can work the buggers.

and speaking of work: back to it, I suppose…

‘If Tyler Durden knew how to change a tap, he wouldn’t have to punch people in the face.’

Today’s blog post title comes from a nice little essay by Ferrett, whose LiveJournal I read.

Since it’s less than a fortnight since I was spectacularly failing at changing the washer in a tap (although, to be fair, a plumber had previously said the whole thing was seized; I was mainly there as a checking-he-isn’t-a-lying-git capacity), that one struck a chord.

I’m feeling fairly cheerful, at the moment. I expect it’ll wear off presently, when I finally come to my senses, but I’m doing OK. I was a bit worried when I went to bed yesterday, because I’d developed a splitting headache behind my eye, and I thought it could be caused by the mixing of wine and whisky last night, but I’m fine this morning, so I was probably just tired. Still am, actually.

(I think work ought to give me an incentive to get out of bed in the morning*; we only have a single storage heater, so getting out from under the covers means making my knees start to hurt unless I immediately get some trousers on, except that [because we only have one storage heater] any trousers I can find are also really cold, and turn out to speed the chill into my bones. Plus, y’know, it’s a bed. Nobody likes getting out of one of those, even to make their phone stop playing ‘They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard, when it’s nice and warm and cosy.’)

I have spent most of the last few days having meetings. The first one was with Hugh Preston, who is the Admissions Dude** out at what I think of as DILS, but which now seems to be simply DIS; the Department of Information Studies. It is looking increasingly like doing a Masters is a sensible thing to do; not only do I get the M out of it, but (because of the way the course is carefully set up) it’ll qualify me for membership of CILIP, too. Both of these things seem to have a fairly immediate impact on the kind of jobs one can get, so it’s looking like a good plan.

The second meeting I had was with Mike Smith, whom I may have mentioned before, way back when I was being a Student. Essentially, he is awesome (which I’ve thought for ages, but he gets bonus Awesome because it turns out he seems to really like me, as well, which is shiny) and will give me an academic reference, which I’d need to actually get onto the aforementioned course.

I’m still a little torn between doing the course Part Time and doing the course Full Time. The main difference is that if I do it Part Time it will take 2 – 5 years, and I have to be in a Relevant Job, but I can start this April and the University will pay my tuition for me while I’m working here (until the end of June), and after that I can run off to The South, or something. With the sole exception of that last point, all of those are both Pros and Cons pretty much equally.

If I do it Full Time it will take about 12 months, I don’t need to worry about finding a Relevant Job or else in the meantime, and I have to stay in Aber for at least 9 months (although once I’m down to the actual Writing A Diss stage, I can go and do so from ‘pretty much anywhere.’ These are all relatively positive, and the only major problem is that I will magically Not Have Anything Paid For, although since the University would only be paying the first two or three months of my tuition if I went Part Time, that’s not so huge a thing as it might otherwise sound.

So… we’ll see.

And that’s all you people are getting from me, for now.

O, except I finished the Allied campaign on Red Alert 3, and I really need to write to EA at some point, to find out why they’d preffer me not to buy any of the games they’re releasing.

(Yeah, I know I keep banging on about this. It just bugs me that these people are sufficiently retarded to think that making a game with invasive anti-piracy measures which you don’t get on the inevitable pirate copies will encourage people to pay hard currency for the inferior copy-protected version, rather than pirate it for free. I just can’t help but feel that anyone incapable of spotting the FAIL inherent in that philosophy is probably someone who shouldn’t be allowed metal cutlery, never mind influence over the gaming industry…)

Anyway, I don’t mean to keep you from your surfing with an argument you all know and agree with; I just figured all of the EA executives might swing by on a Googlewhim***, realise they’re all cretins and commit seppuku in pennance…


* Money doesn’t count. Or, at least, not this ammount of money.
** Actual title may vary.
*** You can use this word. I don’t mind.


…Fun and frolics yesterday when Orange put a bar on my phone, to prevent me from communicating with people.

A service provider that does this when I’ve not paid them for three months I can deal with. A service provider who does this when only the other day I gave them the full balance of my account is something I get stroppy about. Especially when they let me wade through their stupid automated system for ten minutes before it rings at the other end and then cuts me off because “Calls from this number are barred.”


So I called them from Ruth’s phone, sat about for twenty minutes whilst Hold music looped at me and finally got to speak to someone who, to his credit, did a good line in apologising to the curtly civil customer who’d been, it transpired, an unfortunate victim of the automated system not picking up on the payment. Yes, they had taken the money, and they hadn’t lost it, and his colleague was removing the bar even now, sorry for the inconvenience.

…Was there anything else he could do for me?

Actually, yes, thank-you for fixing that mistake. But whilst I was there: when did my contract run out?


I got put through to somebody. Now I was asking because I’ve not treated my N73 very well; I’ve dropped it a lot, and it’s developed some infuriating quirks. Like taking a full minute and a half to show me the contents of a newly recieved text message. Like turning itself off in my pocket. Like waiting for five rings on the other end whilst it has a think, before it actually tells me who is calling and gives me the option to pick up.

No, really. I tested it by calling myself. The landline rang five times before the N73 stopped lighting itself up to no avail and told me the Uberflat was calling. I can’t be having with that, in a phone. I get called relatively rarely but I do need to answer the blasted machine when it happens.

So I asked about getting an upgrade. The availiable upgrade phones at the minute are mostly not great – from an N73 user’s perspective they’re mostly downgrades, with an odd sidegrade thrown in for dubious measure. Except, of course, the N95 8Gb. Which I’ve faniced since El Reg talked about it.

Orange customer services have really gone up since I last checked. They’re sending me out one of them. And a new contract that kicks in on October 15th, which’ll give me 1,200 free minutes, 500 free texts (I was on 100, and I’ve taken to using all of them of late) and a choice of free landline calls, free Orange-Orange calls, unlimited texts or unlimited data. Per month. For about a tenner less than I’m spending now on my current 300 minute, 100 text, 30Mb setup.

Om nom nom*! Sure, it’s not the N96, but I’m getting it now, and it only set me back £30. Win!

I’m really quite chuffed. So much so that I didn’t even mind when the N73 turned itself off for three hours yesterday afternoon, apparently unhappy with the way I’d, uh, laid it down on the desk. I think this’ll be the first mobile phone I’ve ever thrown away; I’ve always given them to other people before but I’m not sure I’d give this raddled playmobil reject to a dog…

Still, N95. It’s meant to turn up on Tuesday. I am, for once, looking forward to the end of the weekend, and the arrival of Next Week. Although I am going to have to do the ironing, later…

The Meme seems to be causing people a strange mix of interest, ire and feelings of isolation. I think I shall do another one, presently, and break the rules by carefully tailoring the results to things I anticipate people being able to get. In my defence, I did wonder when the results started coming out of Winamp, but I figured that whoever thought up the meme might have considered such potential weak points. Remind me to have less faith in such people in the future.

* Review link included solely because spluttered tea once I got to the phrase “A definite improvement on the vanilla N95.” Because that’s how tech [and you could argue, society] works. When the N95 came out you’d’ve been laughed out of town if you called it vanilla. Hell, it did everything. the N95 8Gb does pretty much the same thing, but with a heftier battery hidden in a slinky black number. Quick way to get the older model boosted down a notch, by the looks of it.

And another thing:

My Facebook status, yesterday (following the frankly imbecillic report on the BBC’s website about New Facecoke, to which I have to struggle to react with anything but bile) was something like

[JTA] is genuinely confused by the way people are objecting to New Facecoke.

In spite of that being my status, I still got another two invites to join thickwitted “Have A Mardy Fit About New Facebook” groups. That, frankly, is just insulting. (Because it means either a) you’ve done that on purpose to annoy me or, b), which is more likely, you’ve not actually bothered to think about whether or not I wanted to join your brainless little group in the first place.)


I am in a slightly grumpy mood anyway, though; I’ve been trying to drink slightly less tea & coffee, and I keep getting headaches. You’d think the solution would be to drink more tea & coffee, thus soothing away the headache, but apparently not. Hmm.

“It corners like it’s on rails.”*

For those of you who don’t pick up my semi-comedic status updates on Facebook (and I can think of potentially four of you, and that’s it), I’ve been taking a look at the new version, which they’ve done up nice, and tried to hide all the useless applications away, and things.

By and large I’m really quite fond of this New Facecoke, it really does seem to be neater and cleaner, and if it’s taken away all my beloved Applications That Tell You What I Want You To Think My Personality Is, it’s also shifted all those bloody Zombies off people’s pages (Is there ever a time when a Zombie-related thing is an application you encourage to go near a computer? I can’t think of any).

It has, however, a downside. And that downside seems to be that it was Designed After The Millenium.

At some point in the very late 90s, and unbeknownst to be, who was using Win 3.1 on a Pentium (before they started numbering the sods) right up until January 2002, there was some Council Of Evil that decreed that, henceforth, any new, mainstream, computer software had to come with ugly rounded corners. I’m running Win XP back home, and, thank God, it has a “Windows Classic” setting, which is precisely the first thing I turn on whenever I re-install Windows (as opposed to an Internet Connection, which is precisely the last thing I turn on whenever I re-install Windows).

The UWA AU terminal I’m using at the moment is running Vista, and it’s bubbly as Sin. Blecccch.

What is *with* this, people?

I do not believe that anyone who knew me could honestly accuse me of “not liking curves.” On the contrary, I am a huge fan of curves. Many of my most attractive friends have curves. Indeed, if you asked me to list several things that I find attractive in women, “curves” would be right in at number four-ish, after “being a nice person,” “big eyes,” and “not objecting to overweight librarians with beards.”

But whilst I am an only occasionally slavering fan of curves in their proper place, I do not carry this fandom to excess. Cars, if they do not overdo it, can look very well with curves, and so can smaller things like rubber balls, and larger things like the Cotswolds, and I have no objection to their remaining just as shapely as they are.

Where I get fed up with curves is when they feature in place of sharp angular corners in operating systems or application windows. I do not see the need to take a perfectly good, sharp, crisp line, and spoil it by filing off the edges.

I can accept that we don’t all want the glory days of DOS back (and, actually, since I’ve only just discovered Tab-complete, I was probably never a very efficient DOS user, since I’d type things like “Copy a:\work\eng\chau1.rtf c:\jta\work\eng\xwrk\chau1.rtf” out in longhand every time, which, in retrospect, may not have been the fastest way to do it, and which is certainly slower than “click, Ctrl+c, alt+tab, Ctrl+v”. But do we really have to have curves?

Has there been some study done that “found 63% of people found curvy edges instead of corners made them less afraid of computers,” or something? Or are you developers just doing this to annoy everyone? I’m curious as to where and why this came to be inflicted on us all. (Well, me, specifically, but everyone else seems to have it, too.)

Bloody WordPress is doing it, an’ all!

*Cite me! I was the only quote JTA could think of that involved corners, and I feel lonely and innapropriate!

From old men to axe accidents : I’ve been keeping busy!

First things first: there’s now (at long last) an explanation of why this is called ElectricQuaker anyway. If you’re one of the ten or so that ever wondered about that, feel free to go have a read.

Admin over, let’s get this mammoth post done, shall we?

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, if I’m honest, so it makes some sense for me to try and get everything written down, or I’ll only forget it all.

A good deed goes around the town
Way back on Monday the 14th of July I was keeping myself busy with a whole pile of things to do, most of which involved Being Domestic, which I’m still getting the hang of. Annie was due in by an afternoon train, so I was scurrying over towards Morrisons around noon, with the intention of getting some actual provisions before she turned up and got the impression I’d given up food until Lent, or something.

Anyway, I was just crossing the Taxi Rank when I realised there was an old chap in one of those odd little electric scooters struggling to get it up the pavement, and with a similarly old lady trying to give him a shove. I went over to see if they needed a hand (not, I have to say, without some reluctance, because people can be funny about you if you imply that they’re not coping with this) and it turned out the scooter was busted; the battery was full, but the power wasn’t getting to the wheels.

I ended up wheeling him down Cambrian Street, so he could leave his shopping with the woman, and then up Great Darkgate Street to his flat near the ship. I’ve never before realised how bloody steep Darkgate is. It’s uphill all the way!

The Ruins of Rhodesia
He was a really nice guy, happily, and was a policeman in Rhodesia (as it then was). He’d been out on patrol, with some of his fellow officers, looking for rebels in the jungle, I think, and he was driving the lead Land Rover and sent it over a landmine. Killed two of his friends and messed up his back so he can’t walk properly. They pensioned him off and he’s come over to Wales to retire. Fascinating chap to talk to; although he’s not at all pleased with the way the old country’s been going lately, which is understandable enough, when you consider that if he lost his legs in a bid to stop the populous getting gunned down and then some nutjob with a toothbrush ‘tash took over and is gunning ’em down without even the decency to sneak about and act ashamed of it.

Apparently back when we owned it there used to be tourist-garnering posters that read ‘Come to Rhodesia and see the ruins of Zimbabwe.’ After they got independence they changed the wording to ‘Come to Zimbabwe and see the ruins of Rhodesia,’ which, he pointed out, “Was bloody right.”

I really liked the guy; he honestly was a gentleman, and you don’t get many of them to the pound, these days. He tried to give me a fiver, and we had some little fencing of sensibilities where I was refusing to take money, and he said he’d feel better for having furnished me with a beer, but as it happened he didn’t have any cash on him, so everyone’s honour got satisfied by default, and we shook hands. Derek, I think his name may’ve been. Derek Cox? Not sure; I’m bad with names at the best of times, and it was a couple of week’s back.

It was exhausting work, if I’m honest, but it was nice to be on the giving end of some Aber Effect rather than just the bloke saying “Well that’s very nice of you, cheers!” (And I cashed in a whole bag of Karmic Points later, as we’ll come to presently). Anyway, whilst that did set me back by several hours, it all balanced out because Arrive made such a mess of the trains that Annie didn’t make it into town until the evening, anyway.

Gainful Employment
Tuesday the 15th was the first day of Graduation, which resulted in my alarm waking me up at ten to seven and chivvying me out of the airbed so I could take myself up the hill to work for Campus Clothing, which involved an exhausting ammount of standing up, and a lot of fun Selling Things (I really did like the Selling Things bit; quite appart from the fact that there are actually people out there who carry fifty pound notes in their pockets, every sale I made felt like I’d won, somehow. I don’t think I could do it full-time, because the only books involved are the nasty sort which require maths to be kept in line, but it was really good fun.

Cider and Conviviality
Limped back down the hill in the evening, and then everything goes into a blur for several days, because it’s been a couple of weeks now, and I’m not quite sure what happened when. But there were at least two days of getting rid of the mammoth beer stockpile, and on another evening Annie Soup-From-A-Stone-d me into cooking a pasta sauce (‘Can you just chop the onions?’ and ‘Some mushrooms would really help this sauce’ and ‘If you just fry the mince I’ll see if you have any stock cubes which would help the flavour…’).

Matt and Paul seemed to spend a lot of time about the place, which was nice, and helped contribute to the speedy demolition of the Beer Stockpile, and there was some good Playing Classical Music At Two In The Morning, which I’ve always meant to do, but which is easier with people shouting out requests. And I’ve finally learnt the name of Night on Bald Mountain, which ought to save me asking Ruth what it is every single time I hear the damn thing, which is almost certainly a Good Thing.

Striding to the Soundtrack
Less of a Good Thing was the habit I developed of staying up until the small hours of the morning and then forcing myself out of a nice warm sleep as soon as the alarm began to bleat at me, but it turns out I do a damn good line in Willpower when I need to, and I was actually in the Arts Centre by the appointed hour every day. Go me, huh? I confess to only making it up the hill with the help of a very loud song on loop from my Zen, and that I do remember, because it went something like

Tuesday: ‘Myzsterious Mizter Jones,’ — Slade (with clearer audio & a plain background here)
Wednesday: ‘Protect & Survive,’ — Runrig (This version has much clearer audio, but static saltire instead of the actual video).
Thursday: ‘This Darkest Winter,’ –Runrig again. (I’ve worked to it for a decade or more, I can have ’em twice! Fuzzy audio, I’m afraid, but the kickass lyrics are over here.)
Friday: ‘Hell March,’ — Red Alert (I suspect you can establish how tired I was from the extent of my need for hefty marching tunes. Hell March is the only thing to have ever got me from the Bodleian to St Aldates in under five minutes. Damn fine march.)

Anyway, I wasn’t just soundtracking myself; I was also selling things like crazy, with occasional breaks to go off and try and photocopy my expenses slip (in the process of which, I lost a tenner, because the machine ate it, and the people at the Issue Desk in Hugh Owen were not pleased when it transpired that I didn’t have (with me) my written permission from Ruth that I could use her card. Awkwardness. Also, dammnit, that was my tenner, that was!)

We sold out of all of the things we were attempting to sell, and got a lot of mail orders in, to save people from having to be dissapointed, so I’m anticipating some species of bonus from that. Mind you, the basic cheque would be nice; I think Charlie is due some more rent today and, whilst I can lay the money out, it would be nice to watch it coming straight back in again!

Commodore Cinema: Because you can only watch one screen at once, anyway.
Saw The Incredible Hulk at the Commodore, which was fun (and dear God, I loved that ending!), so thanks, again, to Paul for not only reserving us some seats, but also for showing us the projection engine and the telephone. I shall come and see that film that has a live-action arrow storm as a thank-you.

Annie didn’t leave on Friday as previously planned. I wasn’t actually there at the time, but there was something about Paul and Matt ambushing the train as the level crossing in Llanbadarn and hauling Annie off, and stealing all the US Mail, and things. Or, at least, that was what Paul’s text contrived to imply, so once we were done taking mail orders and the last of the graduates had dissapated Carrie got Rhys and I to pack away the stall, and I came back down to the Uberflat, and Paul made me a cup of tea that promptly went cold whilst I bemused every girl in every chemist in town looking for some hair dye that doesn’t exist in Wales.

There was hair dyeing, and ratatouille, and considerably more drink. And Matt somehow put a huge dent in my bottle of whisky, but I did say he was allowed, so that’s OK. The bath is not purple, either, so it is All Good.

Come Saturday the 19th of July, however, pretty much everyone was due to be leaving, and I was up early (yet again. I swear I don’t know how I manage it) to pack, ready for the Hour of Leaving, at 09:30.

I think we actually got away at a little after 11, or possibly 12. By that point I was also carrying a vast saucepan, srtapped to the back of the rucksack, and a monitor, whose cables I forgot to untie until Dan actually turned up, leading to some infuriating last-minute banging my head against the underside of the desk, and trying to work out what went to the monitor, and what went to the old SVGA CRT that lives under my desk, and has, of course, exactly the same connector, when they’ve both been disconnected from a tower and are lolling about on the floor and getting one another in knots. Never attempt to untie technical goods in a rush; it just leads to undignified grunting and periodic curses.

I got fairly well jammed into the back of Claire’s car, which, though God knows how, actually had the power to haul everything we’d loaded into it, and then I went to sleep, which is my ususal strategy for preventing travel sickness, and which does, actually, work pretty well (although it does require a talent for sleeping pretty much anywhere, which I sometimes worry I am losing, but which seems to be sticking with me so far.)

Arrival in Cumbria
We made fairly good progress up to Cumbria, although I think Ruth would’ve preferred it if she could’ve slightly fewer hours attempting to entertain herself with the scant supply of entertainment provided by Penrith while we slogged up the M6 and dumped the contents of the car at the cottage in Mauld’s Meaburn and left Dan to work out how to turn the electricty on, and build a computer network for the code that was due to get hacked up over the week.

On the way along the A66, on one of the Dual Carriageway bits just after Temple Sowerby, we spotted a small child’s bicycle lying in the right hand lane. Slap bang in the middle of the carriageway. It was very surreal; I half expected Ogri to wheelie over it and yell “Oi!” at some deadhead in a Volvo…

Anyway, we pulled over in a convenient layby, and I got to use one of the Emergency Phones. 62B, it may’ve been. Very friendly woman on the other end, who didn’t seem cross that I wasn’t actually broken down, and she said that they’d send someone out to shift it, which can only have been a good thing.

We collected Ruth outside Penrith station, where she was standing and looking fed up with the whole damn dorp, and made our way to Morrisons to provision up (for there is, of course, no shop in Maulds Meaburn).

No, knot my thumb!
We’d all settled in fine, by Sunday morning, and had even got the Rayburn working (I, as a Hadley lad, had something in the way of an affinity with the thing, which pleased me, and it was good to be working with an actual fire again; ‘s been too long!)

By Sunday morning, however, the fire in the Rayburn was out, which I’d expected to be the case, having damped it down the night before, and so I was attempting, with the aid of a small hatchet, to create some post-kindling sticks from some seasoned offcuts of pine planking (which I’m sure you know are the kind of thing you need once you’ve got the actual wood alight, and before you start to throw in big logs and coal).

All was going well. Basically a standard “You begin chopping wood with your axe. You cut off some dry firewood” repetition. And then things went kinda wrong, viz:

“You continue chopping wood with your axe. But wait! There’s a knot in the wood! The axe bounces! The axe hits you! You drive the axe into your thumb!”

Happily, and presumably as a direct trade-off against all that positive karma I mentioned stockpiling over the previous six days (which, let’s face it, was certainly worth a thumb, and probably a limb or two) the hatchet slammed into my thumbnail which, being a tough bugger, deflected the angle of the blade such that, instead of going clean through to the bone, I cut the fleshy tip of my thumb off, and missed all the major veins.

Panicked Ruth by stumbling inside, with my thumb in my mouth, mumbling through the blood, and with a great splodge of gore on my shoe, and going upstairs to get some toilet paper whilst refusing to tell her what was wrong (which, in retrospect, is the kind of thing that would make you think things were very seriously amiss). Tom, it turns out, doesn’t really believe in first aid kits, but he did have bootlaces, so I caught hold of one of those and Claire tied a tourniquet round it, as they tend to ask you not to do, nowadays, and that reduced the pulsing spurts of blood enough to get some healing going on.

Cue the tea, svp
Once the immediate bleeding had got sorted out I came down with the shakes and, for some reason, stayed pretty whacked out of it for the next few days, which was a pain. Although the fact I kept nodding off in the middle of the afternoon could also have been because of all the Not Sleep and Not Sitting I’d put in whilst selling things to Graduates, I guess.

Anyway, Ruth gave me some sugary tea, which fixed the shock reaction by politely pointing out that the British don’t kick up a fuss over trivialities like barely-missed mutilations, and we all piled into the car and went to Appleby in search of a chemist with a bandage.

Morrisions inexplicably comes up with the Goods
Appleby, however, is a town of decent, law-abiding citizens, many of whom were playing bowls when we arrived, and the chemist was consequently closed, because it was a Sunday. So we went back to Morrisons in Penrith instead, and a lovely woman called Geraldine patched me up, and the chemist came over and, upon being told “I did it cutting firewood,” replied, brilliantly, “Ah, yes. Well, we’ve all done it,” as if it was the most common injury in the world. (And, to be fair, you can see how it could, at least, be the most common injury in Cumbria…)

They gave me a nice packet of painkillers, as well as the usual stuff like tubular bandages and melanin pads, and things and so I was able to keep out infection and still make myself useful by sorting out the fires, and things (although Ruth hid the hatchet, and, as it happened, there was a whole bag full of just the kind of wood I’d been attempting to create, hidden away in a cupboard. Hey ho.)

Everything Else
[At the time of writing, it’s close on one in the morning, and I didn’t get too much sleep last night, either, so I find I am losing the will to add to the 2,800 words I’m told I’ve already got down on paper. Not much happened for the rest of the week, anyway…]

I’ve been learning some Ruby, and can now puts things like a demon. A demon who’s got a definite feeling that there ought to be more to coding than that, sure, but a demon nonetheless. Who knows, I might get beyond the ‘Writing a sarky DOS prompt’ stage that I managed with QBasic. Shall have to see, would probably be good to do something useful!

I do think more things may’ve happened, and there was a fascinating return journey that involved mountains and cliffs and a lot of running on petrol fumes, but I think that can wait until I’m not faced with a paltry six hours sleep! This has gone on quite long enough already; I’m sure most of the Internet doesn’t have this kind of attention span, anyway!

Dan, indidentally, has photos of the injuries, and things. I suggest the rubberneckers amongst you apply to him!

Am about to attempt to tag things. Hm. Wish me luck!


Praise the Lord for Mountain Dew!

A proper post with details on the last couple of weeks tomorrow, assuming I can find the time. Everything seems to have gone a bit hectic, lately, but I reckon after crashing out this evening I’ll be able to get something like a proper post done (in between running about and getting the airbed back of Dan and Claire so I can chuck it + pump at my sister when she turns up on Tuesday).

I think everything that I wanted to get working should be working, by now; looks like I’ve got WordPress v. 2.6 up and running, at long last (It all broke horribly, and I couldn’t work out what on earth I was meant to be doing with it, until I looked at my watch, cursed the fact it was midnight, and cracked open a Mountain Dew to keep me going, whereupon my brain took a massive hit of caffine and realised that I should probably try commenting out the random security key they made me splice into the wp-config thingy. I am ashamed to have spent three hours trying to fix the sudden breakage of everything, and yet never once thought to try undoing the last change I made. Pitiful. Evidently you should all fill me up with caffinated drinks on a regular basis to stop me from becoming The Stupid.)

It also looks like I’m successfully exporting new entries on this blog to my old livejournal (which being the case will make that link go interesting, over there). I am Pleased about this, because if you go down a few entries on that site you’ll find the entry prior to today was made on the 11th of September 2005, and says “No I haven’t fixed the RSS feed [to make blog posts automatically appear here] yet. At some point, I’ll get someone good with computers to do it.”

Turns out that person was me. Whadda y’ know?

O, cool. this version of wordpress appears to come with a built-in word counter and an autosave. That actually almost makes up for the Many Hours I have spent looking at FAQs and then getting dispirited and going away and messing about with silly quizes, and things.

For some reason, the upgrade has eaten all of my old categories (specifically, it deleted all the names, which made them impossible to edit without manually changing the edit URL) so I’ve had to patch them together with guesswork. The ‘memes’ tag took a direct hit in the process, when I tried to convert things to tags, and then deleted both the tags and the category, so I’m afraid the memes will have to start again.

On the plus side, they can start again right now! Woo, and yay, and (quite possibly) horrible breaking of everything. I don’t know if I’ve done these before, because all memes feel the same and, of course, I no longer have a speedy indexing system, which prevents me from checking without effort. Still, let’s see if these things confuse the cross-poster, shall we?

Meme the first:

The Gentleman

Deliberate Gentle Love Master (DGLM)

The Gentleman

Steady & mature. You are The Gentleman.

For anyone looking for an even-keeled, considerate lover, you’re their man. You’re sophisticated. You know what you want both in a relationship and outside of it. You have a substantial romantic side, and you’re experienced enough sexually to handle yourself in that arena, too. Your future relationships will be long-lasting; you’re classic “marrying material,” a prize in the eyes of many.

It’s possible that behind it all, you’re a bit of a male slut. Your best friends know that in relationships you’re fundamentally sex-driven. You’re a safe, reliable guy, who does get laid. In a lot of ways, you’re like a well-worn, comfortable pair of socks. Did you ever jack off into one of those? All the time.

Your ideal mate is NOT a nut-job. She is giving and loving, like you, but also experienced.

Your exact male opposite:

The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth

Random Brutal Sex Dreamer

Always avoid: The Battleaxe (DBLM)

Consider: The Maid of Honor (DGLM), someone just like you.

Link: The Online Dating Persona Test

— Who on Earth drew that picture? Because I’d like to know where idea for combining Grecian armour with a Norman shield and a bastard sword came from. And why the chap seems to think it a higher priority to keep the balloon safe while the drugged-up child has got a kneecap full of arrows.

On the other hand, the actual text is absurdly flattering, except for the bit about the socks, so I oughtn’t complain too much.

Meme the Second:
Wherein I copy-paste some genuinely nasty-looking HTML

Your result for The Quick & Painless ENNEAGRAM Test…

8 – the Asserter

you chose AY – your Enneagram type is EIGHT (aka “The Challenger”).

“I must be strong”

Asserters are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me

  • Stand up for yourself… and me.
  • Be confident, strong, and direct.
  • Don’t gossip about me or betray my trust.
  • Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender,
    vulnerable side.
  • Give me space to be alone.
  • Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don’t flatter me.
  • I often speak in an assertive way. Don’t automatically assume it’s
    a personal attack.
  • When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that’s just
    the way I am.

What I Like About Being a EIGHT

  • being independent and self-reliant
  • being able to take charge and meet challenges head on
  • being courageous, straightforward, and honest
  • getting all the enjoyment I can out of life
  • supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me
  • upholding just causes

What’s Hard About Being a EIGHT

  • overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don’t intend to
  • being restless and impatient with others’ incompetence
  • sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it
  • never forgetting injuries or injustices
  • putting too much pressure on myself
  • getting high blood pressure when people don’t obey the rules or when
    things don’t go right

EIGHTs as Children Often

  • are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit
  • are sometimes loners
  • seize control so they won’t be controlled
  • fugure out others’ weaknesses
  • attack verbally or physically when provoked
  • take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

EIGHTs as Parents

  • are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted
  • are sometimes overprotective
  • can be demanding, controlling, and rigid

Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele

The Enneagram Made Easy
Discover the 9 Types of People
SanFrancisco, 1994, 161 pages

Which is a damn fine way of saying “You’re a right bolshy sod, you are,” and which, for something that only asked me two questions, and therefore allowed me to get back to attempting to put entire new users into the mySQL thing that I don’t even begin to understand, and which, of course, was of no material use anyway, is pretty cool.

But then I’m a gullible twonk when it comes to that sort of thing. Can’t help but go pushing radio buttons, that’s my problem. Hell, if someone produced a 35-question “Which Meme User are you?” test, I’d be right out there to discover I was the Casual Meme Inflicter (You tend to only do memes for your own amusement, but you can’t resist showing off your results, either. Avoid the Skeptic Quizzilla User; consider Evangelical Personality Questioner)…

Hm. That was the end of the third can of Mountain Dew. Did I mention that I start Proper Work on Friday? Come back, sleeping patterns, all is forgiven!

I really hope this doesn’t break everything. Particular apologies to LJ people, who may well get some really ugly cross-posted stuff. And to RSS people, who’ve had no idea why I kept putting out the ‘Breakfast, breakfast, Sun, Dock, Trog’ messages while I was looking for the crossposter to notice I’d installed it.

Testing, testing…

Sun, dock, trog?

Sun, dock, trog?

God damn lazy bastard machine!

OK, so my tower fell over on its arse last night. I am less than happy. Mostly, I am less than happy because I don’t really know what’s wrong with it; it isn’t connected to the Internet, or anything that isn’t itself, and yet it’s behaving awfully “Look at me with a virus!” like…

(Can you get a virus through a USB key?)

On the offchance it helps, the order of events was roughly:

1. JTA boots computer. All is well.
2. JTA launches C&C Generals. Plays about five minutes.
3. Generals terminates, shuts self down, accompanied by warning box from Windows to say it’s encountered a critical error.
4. Click ‘OK’. Computer restarts.
5. Windows returns. “Recovered from serious error” dialogue box. Click OK, don’t tell anyone (because how the Hell can it? It’s not wired to anything).
6. Computer restarts.
7. Windows loads. Waits five minutes. Restarts.
8. Ditto.
9. Windows starts to load, is displaying desktop. Explorer presumably loading (no toolbar or start menu yet). Computer restarts.
10. Attempt to start in safemode. Computer BSODs.
11. Worry.
12. Attempt to start in safemode. Computer tells me that “txtsetup.ini” is corrupt, startup cannot continue.
13. Manually restart machine.
14. Wait, whilst computer whirs and clicks and does nothing. Don’t even get a “no signal” message to monitor, it’s just firing black at me.
15. Repeat five times. Switch tower off at wall. Switch on again.
16. BIOS starts in “fail-safe mode.” Never seen that before. Getting worried now.
17. Discover BIOS fail-safe mode appears not to include support for USB keyboards. Can’t F8 into safemode.
18. Plug in proper keyboard via ATX – PS2 converter. Start safemode. Roll back to System Restore from Friday 14th September.
19. Computer restarts mid roll-back.
20. Repeat step 18. Computer crashes during restore, sits there half an hour. Manual restart, repeat step 16.
21. Turn on power at wall. Contrive roll-back to System Restore from Sunday 16th September.
22. Computer completes system restore, looks fine and happy.
23. JTA gets suspicious, waits ten minutes.
24. Computer restarts at random.
25. JTA leaves house to get bus to work.

…Seriously, I’m kinda stuck here. (All my live CDs and boot disks are in Norfolk, with Ruth (apart from some old ones, which are in Suffolk, which is just as useless.)

Not sure what can’ve happened to it; all I can think is that there’s a virus come in on my USB key, but I’ve just run that though Sophos here at work (because I dinnae want to infect the office PC, of course) and that’s come out clean… The only other thing I can think is that, when I cleaned up the Rev’s PC a while back, and got all her My Documents files off it (because that had a nasty virus) one of those files contained a virus itself. Word documents, a couple of spreadsheets and .jpgs of dead people from memorial service booklets, any of them likely to harbour a virus that waits two months and then goes off without you opening the files? Or is there just a mechanical failure in there?

…I was kinda relying on that PC to, pathetically, take my mind off how weird it is to be in the house whilst Ruth’s away (seriously, it’s not something that’s ever happened before in the year and a bit I’ve been here), so I’m vaguely strapped now.

No internet at home, either, because Ruth has the laptop.

Any ideas? (Just wondered, don’t really expect much… Might need someone to help me resurrect the damn thing once I get back to Aber, though. Any volunteers for that, either?)


Afternoon all.

My sister has broken the computer back home. That’s “broken” from the point of view of her & my mother, mind, since what she’s actually done is bugger up the mouse and the PS/2 port, not the actual machine. From where they are, though, in the land of not-knowing-the-keyboard-shortcuts, it’s effectively screwed.

I only found this out because my mother had to ring me to find out how to shut it down without damaging it, which, in some ways, puts her a level up from the average users who’d just pull the plug out – she was, once, quite good with computers, before the advent of “start” buttons which, er, don’t, in fact, start anything, and her main worry was that, without a mouse to click the shutdown button, it wouldn’t be able to park the hard disk properly, and it’d all get bust. (To be fair, she didn’t say that, but I extrapolated from the fact the computer we used to have did demand the feels-like-we’-re-computing rigmarole of returning to the c:> prompt and asking it if it’d like to get parked. It used to bring back a message that said something like “HD PARK OK. NOW TURN POWER OFF!” …)

Anyway, that call took some time, because I first had to explain the “ctrl+alt+delete, and now navigate to “shutdown” with the cursor keys” bit, and then ask why the mouse wasn’t plugged in. It wasn’t, it seems, because my sister decided it was broke last night, and tried to swap it for another mouse which “had a connector like a spaceship” in that it was “wedge-shaped, and full of little holes.” I didn’t even know we still had a mouse to plug into the com port back home, but apparently we do. Predictably, that didn’t work (Hell, even I don’t know where the serial port is on that computer, and I built the damn thing) and so (I’m guessing) she got really cross and – somehow – ripped the PS/2 mouse either in or out, so what they now have at home is a PC with a PS/2 mouse port full of the pins from the connector on the mouse, and a mouse that can never connect to anything again.

Given that the mouse plugs in at the back of the machine, down and to the left of the desk, I’m assuming she took up the mouse in two hands and ripped up and towards her. Can’t imagine why, mind. Ordinarily I’d say I’ll go home and fix it, but it’s nae really that simple, for I’m not due home until October as it is.

I’d not advise buying a whole new PS/2 mouse in the hopes that the port will be OK if you cut the power and pull the shredded pins out with tweezers, because it doesn’t sound like the balance of probability is in favour of it being in a good way, given what’s happened to it, and the box back there only has two USB ports, one of which is taken up with giving them an internet connection. Two, ordinarily, would be plenty for them, as it’s one for the Internet thing and one for the printer / USB stick, neither of which get used at the same time on enough of a regular basis to ever matter.

If, however, they’re going to have to give one over to the mouse, that suggests lots of disconnecting the Internet fun-ness whenever they want to save to a USB key, or print something, or similar.

But, even I – prone as I have always been to sudden flashes of mentalist rage in the vicinity of computers (once, after I got my top character killed in Hillsfar, because of a stupid fight in the arena because of Wak bloody Rather, after I’d spent weeks getting up at 06:00 before heading off to junior school to play it, I caught hold of the monitor, dragged it towards me and then rammed it back so it made an inch-deep dent in the wall behind it – damn thing survived, amazingly, we’ve still got it somewhere) – even I find it hard to imagine destroying a mouse just by pulling. Or, at least, destroying a mouse so the pins stay in the port; dragging it free and lobbing it against the wall I can see could happen more easily, and picking it up and slamming it into the desk so hard the button spring break I’ve done once or twice. But ripping the pins out and leaving ’em in the socket? Man, that is excessive violence against peripherals.

Also, as I say, it rather sinks the use of the PC, which always strikes me as a bit dim… Ah well. It does, at least, save me telling you about the daft dream from this morning (there was a bus, in Bath, which ended up by Morrisons in Aber, and a guy stood in the road with a crash trolley, and revived a guy in the bus next to the one I was in, who’d been having a heart attack). That dream was rubbish.

Plug ‘n’ Play: compatability not included.

So, as I mentioned on Wednesday I’ve brought my computer down to Wallingford, and, as Robin ran off with my old monitor, I needed to buy myself a new monitor.

Now I’m not working on an Overclockers budget (but I really love ’em and their “anything below high-end? Yeah, we’ve heard of it…” attitude), and I haven’t got the patience to wait for Scan to work out that when I ask for one specific component, I want actually that one, rather than something a bit similar… so I hauled off to Dabs and had a nose about there to see what I could get.

Since, for all it’s now a year old, my box remains fairly beefy (it’s now down to something like “cutting edge,” rather than “bleeding edge;” – buying computers: slightly more depressing than building cool new ships in Stars), the graphics card I’m trying to work with here is an Nvidia 6600, full of DVI-ported goodness, it made sense to go properly digital.

So, I thought, here’s a good-priced monitor, I’ll get that. Dabs duly sent it off, and it got here yesterday.

And that’s where things got nasty. The monitor came with all the usual stuff – a box, a D-sub cable, a power cord, a quickstart guide, a CD and some polystyrene. I’d got Dabs to send me a DVI cable as well, and all was up and running in about five minutes. Except… well it kept saying there was “no signal input” from the computer. How strange…

…So, usual drill for Windows boxes in these situations: cue Safe Mode. That worked fine, but nothing else worked… Or, rather, everything else worked, but only in VGA, which I like in the DOS-box, but which I don’t look for in my main computer, where it’s not so much a low-resolution as a crime against God.

Still, VGA at least meant I could log on, and get the accompanying CD into the drive. Install some drivers, I thought, and then we’ll be away. Or not, as a matter of fact, because what the CD contained was not helpful drivers, but a pdf version of the manual. In the manual was a helpful bit of information regarding the error message I was getting – “no signal input: check cable”.

Basically, it said

Your monitor will not function unless there is a video input: if your monitor displays the message ‘check cable,’ you should check the cable to ensure the cable is properly connected to your computer.

Uh. Yeah, well I was kinda able to work that part out for myself… So let’s try it with the D-Sub connection… Nah, that didn’t work either. So I need drivers. None of the windows generic drivers worked, so I did the usual “hit the Internet” thing…

…Google showed up a load of message boards with people saying they can’t find drivers, and it also showed up the Hanns-G website, which informed me that,

No Operating System specific drivers should be necessary. Hanns.G monitors comply with DD2B plug & play standards.


Meaning “Your computer is too good for our cheapskate pile of cack. Tough shit, hotshot, we can’t be bothered to do anything about it.”

This was very annoying. I don’t mind plug ‘n’ play, indeed, I find it very useful. On the other hand, plug n play is a fairly generic thing: you plug in a component, the computer is able to speak to it, and then you can optimise things. As far as I can tell, plug n play is rather like peripheral component Esperanto; it works rather well, but you wouldn’t use it to write poetry. You wouldn’t rely on it for international peace negotiations – you’d get an interpreter, to make everything go as smoothly as possible. Drivers are rather like that – plug n play is good for the average joe, but it’s not going to work all the time.

As far as I can tell, therefore, the Hanns-G approach to providing monitors is something along the lines of firemen who opt for cheaper, 30-yard hoses because that’s enough to put out most fires, and, well, if there’s a few buildings that’re too tall for the hoses to put out, that’s fine, because they’ll burn down to less than 30-yards in no time.

It’s all profoundly annoying, not least because, as far as I can tell, it’s only come about through laziness on their part – who the fuck ships hardware without drivers and just trusts it’ll work on anything? Come on, dudes, I’ve just bought a monitor that’s a whole year newer than my graphics card, and it’s not sufficiently advanced to work with the computer?

Could you not have made it nice and plain that it wasn’t designed for good hardware? How hard is it to describe a monitor as a “Hanns-G Budget Office LCD”? That says everything it’s designed for, and quietly points out to anyone paying attention that they didn’t ought to buy if if their idea of using a computer is more than “opening Word and playing a bit of Solitaire”.

So that was tiresome.

Kudos to Dabs, though, for having a sensible returns policy – sending the useless bastard back is still going to be complicated, but that’s because I’ve got AACR2 training all next week so I can’t take a random day off to orchestrate it all.

Honestly. What kind of fault is “Computer too advanced for monitor to operate,” anyway?

* If someone can suggest a reason other than the plug n play not being good enough and it needing specific drivers, that’s excellent; please do it soon, though, else I’ll have to pay a tenner to have the glorified turd that’s now back in its box upstairs shipped back to Dabs in the hope they can foist it onto someone whose main requirement from the monitor is that it’s flat, and can plug into a wall.

Ah… Evening Duty…

…Apparently the one time of the week when I manage to get a post done!

Well, now, life here moves on apace. Last week I got ill with a stinker of a cold and got sent home, and spent a couple of days sleeping. Ruth’s birthday happened, however, and a huge pile of family turned up (I say huge, because it was. Ruth says it wasn’t, because it didn’t feature sundry cousins. Such an approach to families baffles me; where I come from – and bear in mind my immediate family is about four people – sundry cousins, of which I have many – are left to fend for themselves). Still, there were about fourteen people (as I say, masses), and it was all good fun, fuzzy headaches notwithstanding.

It’s suddenly got a lot colder down here; I need to fix my gloves up and get some decent dubbin back onto my hat; the lousy weather last month stripped it all off, which is annoying. The practical result of this is that my knees have started playing up on a regular basis again. I figure now’s the time to get the buggers properly sorted out, since the lack of any impact from ibruprofen is starting to worry me a bit. And, of course, it’s actually quite tiring to wake up with knees that feel like they’ve got knitting needles run through ’em sideways, and not shake the feeling ’till you go to sleep at the end of the day…

At the weekend, Friday being nine years since what I still mentally pigeonhole as ‘the Accident,’ Ruth & I headed up to Newport to visit my mother and sister, and generally did Shropshire-y stuff, including Stokesay, which was cool, and a bit of a mooch round Much Wenlock, with it’s amazingly cool butcher (seriously, Christmas Eve you get people queueing up from two in the morning so they can get in when the guy opens at six…)

The plan only really went wrong when we tried to come back, burdened with the computer (on the grounds that it’s silly to let it mothball) and Arriva predictably buggered the trains up. That, combined with the sodding obvious fact that if you run about privatizing a railway network what you get is No Co-Ordinated Timetable meant we didn’t have seats booked for any of the journey and we stood for about eighty miles, i.e, the whole trip from Birmingham to Didcot, crammed into a baggage car like, uh… people crammed in very tightly in uncomfortable trains, and still trying to safeguard a large-ish computer and pile of luggage.

My box, as many of you know, is this cool bastard (but from Overclockers, not the other guys). This seemed to confuse people somewhat; as the Arriva train (finally) pulled into New Street, a guy who’d been sat with two youngish boys, and casting me strange looks, came over and said something like

Him Hi, uh, I’m sorry to butt in, but what is that? [pointing at case]
Me Er, it’s a computer.
Him [to one of the boys] O! You were right! [pointing to other boy] He thought it was a musical instrument…

…so that was a bit random, and faintly cool.

Now the thing’s down here, of course, it needs a new monitor (Robin eloped with my old CRT one) so I’m getting a new one, hooray! DVI and everything, ‘s very nice…

I can do that because I’ve got paid. I like getting paid. I now have to stick to a budget. I like this a little less.

Went to first Panto audition, yesterday; looks like it’ll be entertaining, which is good.

Getting tired of typing, now, and the readers are looking troublesome. Signing off…

Edit – 01/11/06; 1749h:
If you’ve not seen today’s Home on the Strange then make sure you’ve read this storyline and then go read the latest episode; had me laughing as quietly as a could for ages, that did…

Huh. An’ I thought “I’ll play as a Samurai for a bit and then get fed up…”


Sayonara Jem Harra the Samurai…

You were poisoned in Ghennom on dungeon level 33 with 1034276 points,
and 141 pieces of gold, after 53072 moves.
You were level 15 with a maximum of 130 hit points when you were poisoned.

Final Attributes:

  • You were piously aligned.
  • You were fire resistant.
  • You were cold resistant.
  • You were sleep resistant.
  • You were shock resistant.
  • You were poison resistant.
  • You were magic-protected.
  • You saw invisible.
  • You were telepathic.
  • You were invisible to others.
  • You were stealthy.
  • You aggravated monsters.
  • You could teleport.
  • You had teleport control.
  • You regenerated.
  • You were protected.
  • You were very fast.
  • You had reflection.
  • You were extremely lucky.
  • You had extra luck.
  • Good luck did not time out for you.
  • Amaterasu Omikami was angry with you.
  • You are dead (2nd time!)

Creatures Vanquised
2245 creatures vanquished.

(including four priests, five shopkeepers, Medusa, a castle full of angry soldiers, two red dragons, one each of blue, orange and green dragons, Asmodeus, a pet dog called Sirius, Jubilex, Ashikaga Takauji and 103 various blobs…)
Genocided species:

  • vampires
  • vampire lords

2 species genocided.


  • You genocided 2 types of monsters.
  • You never polymorphed an object.
  • You used 7 wishes.

I am getting better, see… About two weeks, that’s how long I’ve been playing that character. And it all comes to nothing.

Ah well…

@ – a human or other object (old man) seen: wally.

I think I’ve been playing too much NetHack… Was on a bus through Oxford this afternoon & saw, further down the road, an old grey-haired bloke in a white jacket.
I absolutely swear my first thought was “Hey! A Giant Mimic!”
O dear…

Hooray! UWA killed XuQa access!

If you’re not getting online from a terminal within the UWA firewall, you’ll be able to find XuQa (pronounced, apparently “ZooKah,” rather than “ex you ku wah…” cretins…) at Infuriatingly, the www appears to be essential.

However, it turns out UWA have blocked it – see here, because it was a totally unmoderated forum. So, obviously, everyone started to use it for hate mail, and similar predictable rubbish, and generally breaking the law.

I hate ’em, they’re wankers. Forwhy? Because they kept spamming my AberNet account and telling me to join, whilst spoofing the “from” address to look like someone from inside Aber (except, of course, it didn’t show up when I checked it in the directory.

Not only this, but they were too thick to properly restrict to actual UWA users. Really, that can’t be too hard. Facebook – a similar (although marginally less crappy) effort currently bouncing round Oxford and annoying people – at least had the wit to make sure users were *at* Oxford…

…even I can see that saying “please use your college e-mail address to create your account. If your college hasn’t supplied you with an e-mail account, then…” yeah, you can use whatever the Hell you want. Old, dead, anonymous Hotmail and Yahoo! accounts, for example. Or something at

…and then you’re all set to cause trouble.

The blind incompetence of that, plus the fact that you couldn’t *find* anything on there put me right off.

It’s a shame, in a way; it could’ve been a good service, properly looked at and restricted. As it was, they launched it with spam, and without any sensible membership rules, and it unsurprisingly went bang. Well, no – it’s still there; you just can’t get to it from inside UWA.

It’s not exactly that I’ve got a problem with things like Facebook, nor even with XuQa, blatantly stupid name or no… It’s just if you’re going to to that sort of thing, then you should at least have the wit to do it sensibly.

Sensibly in this case would’ve been not pissing off IS by using evil darkside spamming techniques, and consulting with UWA first. Not telling people what you’re doing, with somethign like this, is just plain stupid, because the first time you do something to annoy ’em, they’ll pull the plug. Establish a dialogue first, and you’re half-way home. That, and some half-way sensible techs, and it’d’ve been a good, searchable service that’d last oooh… a year and a bit before stagnating and becoming dull?

As it is, it’s been predicable kicked out of the IT rooms. Screw ye not with a genuine legal problem, wallies.

Still, I ought to be out of the IT rooms, myself; Ruth isn’t feeling too great; I really should go see she’s alright…

The NaNoWriMo Wars…

…Weirdness. I have to say I’m still a little confused by Statto‘s anti NaNoWriMo arguments on Dan’s blog

Personally, I’m in it partly for the seeing-if-I-actually-can-do-it element (if I can lash up 50,000 words in a month, there’s a chance I could try getting proper books published, thus avoiding the need to try and do anything with the rest of my life) and for the challenge, (and to support the other guys that are doing it where necessary) and because I think it’ll be interesting.

What’s more I’ve a vague hope it’ll re-spark my capacity to actually write things, which seems to have totally rusted up lately – I think I lost faith in writing things when I did the largely pointless modules in Creative writing, which did a good deal to batter my self confidence by encouraging me to rate my own work (with the result I always said “that’s shit, that is”)… It’s partly because I’ve lost the capacity to invent things to write about that I’ve stopped doing much other than blog posts and essays, I suspect, and I actually used to do loads… JTA the Movie is fairly desperate for an update, I imagine, but I’ve not been able to think of anything to put into it for the last two years…

(as an aside which might appeal slightly more to Statto than my just saying “and I’m doing NaNoWriMo” – I’m using a plot which is a slightly more sophisticated version of that idea I got in what I think was Year 9 [I’d just been to BYM, so that was early 2000] with yonder man who crashes trains…)

I’m pretty certain that there’s nothing I can say that will cause this to make any sense to Statto at all, which is a shame, but I’m happy to take you up on the suggestion that I write a hundred or so decent World Factbook entries in November as well (Hell, I’ve only got a bunch of essays and Civ IV to take care of this month, I can take on a whole other bunch of stuff no problem!)

So yeah – current challenges for JTA appear to be learn bloody “simian OS,” as it’s apparently called, because the 6680 will want a bit of getting used to, do NaNoWriMo, write 100 things for the Factbook (yes), do some essays, do the Real Ale Ramble (bugger, I still need to book time off work for that) and a whole heap of other stuff that still wants sorting. O, and I want to give blood, at some point. Woop.

O well. Lagging a little over here:

Words written: 1631 / target: 50000

Roll on curry…

O for God’s sake…

…Still no Internet in my room, which is frankly irritating – I had thought I’d been booted off the netwoek for the slightly implausible reason that I’d got a worm from my mother’s HDD when I plugged it in to back up data before swapping her old PC for my old PC (so her old one can go to Robin, once we’ve actually made it, er, good.)

The Operators, however, say there’s no problem with my connection, and, last I heard, had to “run some tests” to see if they could work out the problem. They tried to ping my block of the network and got nothing, apparently. Now horribly behind on Green Dragon, because it’s a real faff having to go and play turns over sluggish Citrix boxes. Bastards.

Still, had a good weekend, and hopefully won’t have too bad a week, although I really need to write me some essays before Civ IV turns up on the 5th-ish of November. I wasn’t going to get it, but Dan’s won me round, so more on that when it’s here, and I’ve had a chance to get a look at it…

…Hm. My mobile contract expired yesterday, and I’d been hoping to upgrade to a 7610, which I was told I couldn’t. Apparently Orange can’t sell them anymore, which is a pain in the arse, because Vodafone still do, and all the other phones Orange were offering me as upgrades were either crap, or, Nokias that were stupidly expensive, or flimsy looking.

So I spoke to TGB about it, and he suggested I got put through to retentions, who were remarkably helpful, and said I could spend £79.99 to upgrade to a 6680, which “was really quite similar”.


“But Vodaphone will give me a 7610 for free…” I pointed out. And Lo! Suddenly I was a “highly valued customer,” which was nice, and they said they could waive the fee. It’s still not exactly what I wanted, in all fairness, but it does seem to be a relatively close second, and should arrive later in the week. Most importantly, they’ll let me keep my number, which saves no end of bother letting everyone know what the new one is.

O, and now I’ve finally had a chance to get onto Abnib, and see what the latest meme is; here’s my results (athough I’ve a deep suspicion that the basis on which the calculate these things is horribly, horribly flawed – I ought, by all accounts, to rate much higher on the “friends” category, and probably lower on “health”.) Still, for the sake of comparison:

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 8.7
Mind: 8.4
Body: 6.9
Spirit: 8.3
Friends/Family: 5.6
Love: 10
Finance: 7.9
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Anyway… Now I need to check all the damn e-mails that’ll’ve built up since Thursday. Bugger. More when I get my own connection back, I suspect…

General Developments

I have a pounding headache. Not great.

The Council offices on Portland road aren’t bad, but are fairly warrenish, with three buildings to be done in three hours (It’s soon to be down to two, but they need more cleaners – dunno if Andy‘s tried the council yet?) and so I’m there for three hours a night, which is just a little too long for it to bolt neatly into any part of my schedule. On the other hand, I’m getting paid for it, and it’s not Spar (who still haven’t had their stupid air conditioning fixed) so it could be worse.

I’ve shoved the stupid Asus motherboard back into the box with the manual, CD, quickstart guide and SATA cables, but not the IDE, because I can’t find it. They should have it by tomorrow morning. Ireason that gives them all of tomorrow to work out what it is, Wednesday for them to post the new one, Thursday for the courier to actually get hold of the new one, and Friday for it to be dropped off here. Anything much longer than that and I’m going to be a grumbling person.

Assuming the motherboard does turn up, however (and I’m guessing the new HDDs will be here in a day or two, as well) anyone fancy a Computer Build Party at some point before Troma on Saturday? (I say “party,” but of course what I actually mean is “people turn up and help, and later I possibly buy them a beer, maybe”…)

Ugh, head. Going to lie down again, now.

O. Sweet!

Which File Extension are You?

Wotcha all.

On behalf of some girl who was in the year below me (and actually, now I come to think of it, in Clive, but never mind) back at AGS, I figured I ought to put word out in Aber (that’s you, then, Dan), to see if anyone can answer her search for a good download-limit-free broadband provider.

Anyone? (Er, you can comment on here, but I guess it makes more sense to go to her blog post and say it there. Ta)


Weeeellll… I just rang Spar and told ’em I’m leaving. (yon manager warn’t in on Sunday) Boy was he disappointed.

O dear.

Also, he said could I still do this weekend. I said I’d see what I could do, but it might be hard because of probably moving house.

So I’ll ring up tomorrow, I imagine, and say I can’t. I’m not ruddy well going back to work in that heat with people sighing at me and looking let down the whole time; it gives me a headache as it is.

In cheerier news, I appear to have lashed together a fairly solid list of PC components, and only gone over my £750 budget by eight quid (and that’s for a fan) so I’m feeling fairly cheerful. When I get more money, I shall buy me some new HDDs, and give one or two of my old ones to Robin. And to my mother, I suppose. But I don’t have to worry about that until October anyway.

And in secondary cheerier news, Everything Australian, the cheerful [Ashes-less, woo, go us! Still can’t believe that…] family-run Internet sales firm who sold me my Driza-bone have dispatched it, and it should be here in 3-4 days, I’m told. This is pretty cool, not least because I’ve paid for the most expensive, fasted, international shipping possible, and bought a woolen liner for the coat, and bought the hood as well, and it’s still a fiver cheaper than buying it from the cheapest website in the UK. International currency variations are weird.

Also, they sound like nice people, who upgraded to doing Internet sales alongside the market stall they’d run for twenty-odd years. Bryn, if still interested in getting a Driza-bone, is welcome to have a dekko at mine, once it turns up at The Flat.

And they shouldn’t have been such crappy employers, if they don’t want me to jack it in after three weekends of repetitive heatstroke. Still, ringing tomorrow isn’t going to be fun.

Now this is really clever…

Last Friday (Geek Night) Dan made mention of something called Pandora. It’s fantastic stuff, although it does need broadband, so sorry if you’ve not got that…

The people who developed it did so on the back of the Music Genome Project, a project where a group of people got together, listened to music, and categoried it based on a whole heap of different categories (major/minor key tonality, importance of vocals, and a whole heap of things I never paid attention to before dropping music in the third year).

You get a ten-hour free trial of it (and you can get a years membership for 36USD, which is just under 20 pounds sterling, at the current rate). So Go visit it and set yourself up a “station;” a radio channel based on an artist or song you tell them you like. Assuming they’ve heard of it (they’ve not done the Oyster Band, yet, which was my first choice) they’ll scan the artist or song through their files and pick out a few key elements.

They then find other songs with similar elements, and play those. So I started off giving them Warren Zevon as an artist, and they played me his track ‘Excitable Boy’ to begin with, presumably to check that it was a song of his that I did like. Then they started sifting through the files and pulling out other things they expected me to like (and I got to say whether or not I did).

Five tracks later they were playing Richard Thompson, which was fascinating, because I do like Thompson very much, but I’ve always seen him as being Folk Rock, because he started off in Fairport. In retrospect, of course, there’s a lot of Thompson’s stuff which sounds like Zevon, which is the whole point of Pandora: it doesn’t actually matter what genre an artist’s been pigeonholed in, because all songs are different, which means songs by two totally different artists are capable of sharing several similar elements. My version of “Warren Zevon Radio” (you can, by the way, re-name them) just played a nice track from Fleetwood Mac, and now it’s doing an equally dinky one by someone called James Kochalka, of whom I’d never heard until two minutes ago.

It’s fascinating me, because it’s drawing in things I’d never be likely to run into, and which most people I know probably know even less of (the bulk of the people I know probably wouldn’t know Zevon to begin with, but I imgaine they’re even less likely to go “Cool, Richard Thompson!” – It took me ages to get over the fact Ruth wandered into my room one day back in the first year [at a time now mentally bracketed as the “confused bit”] and said “Is that Fairport Convention?!” thus becoming the first person under forty-odd I’d ever met who recognised them…).

It’s fascinating, too, because you give it tips on how it’s doing, and it chalks it up to experience without doing a full write-off. So if it plays me something from, uh, the Divine Comedy, and I say “no, I don’t like this,” it’ll skip right to the next song, and not play that one again. But it might play another Divine Comedy track at some point, to see if I like that more. And if I say “Yes, this is good,” then it’ll contrast that with all the other opinions I’ve given it, and add it to the list, so the stuff it plays gets closer and closer to the type of thing I really like, but keeps giving me new artists. You can ask it why it’s playing a certain track, and it’ll give you a vague idea – it turns out, for example, that I’m fairly keen on “a busy horn section,” which I never knew, but which keeps coming up on some really good tracks. And it took less than twenty songs before it played me a track because, amongst other things, it featured “political lyrics.”

It’s a bloody clever thing, frankly, amd I’m grateful to Dan for pushing me in the right direction. If you’ve got Broadband, do go and give it a whirl, and see what comes out of it; you’ll probably run into a few new things somewhere along the way.

In other news, I’m working 15:30-23:00 at Spar today, and plan to go and say “Er, by the way, I’m leaving you” shortly after getting there. I imagine they’ll make me stick out the shift anyway, but it’s not really something I can sustain. Especially not with the air conditioning broken and keeping the heat in there at a constant 30-plus centigrade, but I’m not really cut out for doing nine-hour shifts standing up the whole time, either. Christ, at least Halo gave you seats and regular breaks.

I suspect they’re going to be bloody livid with me, but they’re really not paying me enough to make the dehydsration headaches I keep getting anything like worthwhile, and they probably couldn’t afford to, even if they wanted to.

‘s all yours Andy. Get in there with a CV, I should.

C’mon, c’mon… Bloody well pay me already!


OK, now I’m definitely upgrading this bloody box. Graphics card first, I reckon, and then the case and what-not. At the moment, the graphics card’s most important because it needs to be about twice as powerful to even meet the minimum spec for Battlefield 2 (although you could just about get by on a 64mb job back when I threw this thing together…)

I’m hoping to run some rolling upgrade system throughout the year anyway, though; if I buy a new motherboard and a new CPU, plus a DVD writer at some point before I graduate (and, actually, maybe a couple of 512 RAM sticks to boot) I reckon I’ll have something that’ll last me from graduation to getting a decentish job in a few year’s time.

*sigh* Tates have given me a paltry 50 quid for working there the weekend before last, so I’m now a mere £35 over my overdraft limit… Presently, some daffy sod will give me some more, and then I’ll get a loan! Hooray! I really, really do need cash, just at the moment; I still need:

1. A new graphics card.
2. A Drizabone before the weather turns.
3. A new case for the PC, probably with a couple of fans thrown in.
4. New shoes, because they continue to fall apart (the toe’s now open by a good three inches, and the die of the other is splitting away from the sole all the way along). Happily, the new shoes can wait until I’ve bought the other things.

O, and I need £133 for bloody Income Services, before Friday. Or they’ll cut off my library access. (O, how terrible, woe is me, for there are no other libraries in Aber. Huh.) Unfortunately, they’ll also cut off my e-mail, and I do need that, just at the moment. O, and I owe Orange another 54 quid, as well.

I want my money from the council!

Somebody get me some decent software, already!

Just thought “Hm, I want new wallpaper, maybe I’ll try to screenshot some Evangelion.” Playing things in Winamp, and I don’t want to get two tunes at once, so before I get Power DVD to play anything, I click “mute” on the seperate-to-the-main-window control panel.

Winamp muted.

Unmute Power DVD, Winamp comes back. Lower volume on Power DVD, Winamp gets quiet.

Er. Why the Hell d’you think I’ve got a volume control on the speakers and on Winamp, bitch? Why would anyone write software with a mute function that overrides everything else on the soundcard?


O, and Ruth & I are caught up on Evangelion, now. They seem to have given the Angels names. This is a little random, but not as worrying as a thought which stuck me during Episode, er, 12: “Angels” is all very well, messengers from God, we all know the drill. Broadly speaking, the term “angel” encompasses all the seraphim and cherubim, etc, there being different ranks of angels. In fact, Trinity aside, “Angel” encompasses the entire Host of Heaven, bar three. (It was bar four, but that was a long time ago…)

The Three not covered, therefore, are Gabriel, Raphael & Michael, they being what’re technically called Arch-Angels. I have no idea if that’s important or not, but it’s got a nasty potential to it, don’t you think?