First impressions

A lady, glimpsed through an icy bus window misted with condensation and streaked with rain. On a freezing morning in earliest spring, she stands at a bus stop surrounded by strangers. I wipe my gloved hand across the window to clear the mist and observe. Surrounded by surly teenagers in black hoods and old men with skin as grey as their coats, she stands alone in pale beige with a delicate pink scarf wrapped securely her neck, her golden skin and hair glowing healthily against the background of a grey world, a concrete city. She is like an angel fallen to our mundane earth, bewildered by our world. But is this glowing innocence genuine, or the calculated edifice of careful cosmetics and good wardrobe? I decide to search for evidence. She continues to stand, occasionally glancing left or right, and once directly up at me, on the top floor of the bus. Does she notice my attention? I glance away for a few seconds, but then return. A new bus arrives, and it stops behind mine - she will have to run to...
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Life: a how-not-to-do-it guide

So, it's been a long and complicated week so far. Let me fill you in. I've been working on a big project at work. It's not the biggest one we're working on, but it's worth a lot of money, and I was put into a position of some responsibility over it. It was stressing me out, especially since it was nearly 2 weeks late. We tried to launch it Monday and decided against. In an attempt to get it out the door by Tuesday, my godlike sysadmin and I stayed at work until nearly 10pm. On Tuesday, we actually attempted to launch it and had to back out again after it went disastrously wrong. Again, I stayed until 9.30pm with my sysadmin and our QA guy in an attempt to get it out the door. Two successive 13-hour days of high stress had already knackered me, so by Wednesday morning I had the flu that's been going around and felt like shit. But I couldn't delay the launch another day, so I went to work. We launched successfully, a process that takes 5 or 6 hours to complete when you include all the immediate...
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Hey!

When you take a second day off work, you're supposed to feel better at the end of it, not worse! Dammit! Today I have been mostly: Sneezing Attempting to configure Debian (I've got X working, which is further than I've ever got before, but compiling my own drivers for my wireless card is proving a huge pain)
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On the weakness of CSS

The CSS Zen Garden is intended to be an example of the power and flexibility of style sheets as a design tool, and a demonstration that the goals of CSS can be achieved, namely the separation of content from presentational code, while still producing attractive results. And largely, it achieves this: the layouts on CZG are varied and frequently beautiful. But on another level, it is also a demonstration of CSS's weaknesses as well. For example, look at the content boxes on Planet Seldo. They have visual elements around their borders, that stretch to fit the size of the box, both vertically and (if you resize your window) horizontally. This is known as a "stretchy" layout, and it is generally considered a desirable thing in web design because everybody's screens are different sizes and people can change their window size at will. The stretchyness is achieved by a little CSS trick of defining a background image for the content box (a DIV tag) that is quite large: only the part that fits within the size...
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On London

Blog happy today! Making up for recent dearth of posting... I was having a conversation with someone online today, and he posed this question: I'm trying to decide whether to move to York or London. York is cheap and near my parents (my dad is not well and I'd like to make the most of the time he's got). London has got everything a person could possibly want. Or has it? You say that it's great if you're young and single (and confident, good looking, etc.) but what if, er, you're not all of those things? I have this fantasy of moving to London and having this incredibly gay life (whatever that means) but is it just a fantasy? This was my response: It's quite a serious question, so I'll give you a serious answer. I am, in general, a huge cheerleader for London and have been partly responsible for persuading several of my friends to move here, a virtuous circle since the more friends who are here, the more I enjoy London, and the better life becomes to boast about so we can invite yet more...
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Dr. Now

The first episode of the new Doctor Who series has been leaked. You heard it here, er, second, after the BBC itself publicized the leak. Publicizing the theft of their own property is sure to increase the number of people who get a copy, and yet they don't sound very pissed off about it, leading me to form my own theories about who was responsible for the leak. Now go away, you're using bandwidth that could be better applied to receiving an advance preview of the latest in phone-box form-factor time travel technology.
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Data mining

Bugger. The new MT can deal with comment spam more effectively, but there are already so many spam comments in the database that attempts to rebuild your blogs are overloading the server (my account got disabled again :-( ). I am working on sorting out your blog commenting issues, my pretties...
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Too busy to blog

Here's a thought. I was going to turn it into a blog, but this is all I managed to get down, so take it and be happy, there's intellectually starved people in the American midwest who go a whole week without seeing a good wholesome thought like this one: On the NHS providing priority HIV tests for "men who have sex with men" Not all men who have sex with men agree to be called gay, and not all men who call themselves gay have sex with men, either through choice or merely lack of opportunity. To be homosexual is not an identity, it's a sexual preference. The word "gay" in itself doesn't have to be an identity, but in general usage it is. And having fought since Stonewall to establish an identity for that word and defended their right to maintain that identity, it would be a betrayal of all those proud gay men who fought if other homosexuals took their identity away through some misplaced sense of political correctness. So you don't have to be camp and like disco to have sex with men, but maybe...
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Gone to the Dogs

So yesterday we went to the Dogs at Walthamstow Stadium. The Posh Dogs is a really nice setup: you sit in a quiet, climate controlled enclosure behind glass, sitting at nice tables with real tablecloths and metal cutlery. Waiters bring you food, and a little monitor informs you about the results of the races, which you bet on by fiddling with a little monitor at one end of your table. Unfortunately, to my surprise, we didn't go to the Posh Dogs. We went to the bog-standard dogs, aka Hell on a Stick. It started off well enough. We took cabs from the station directly to the venue -- setting the tone, I thought. Then we got there, and our host explained that we had got the six-pack, a group deal that gives you some food, some drinks, and some bets, all via a voucher system. Ho ho, we said, it shall be an experience. Come, let us eat scampi and chips and revel in a British cultural institution, complete with giant neon sign and authentic East-end accents! The stadium itself is clean and generally...
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Newsflash

I have just watched the trailer for Episode III. I have to go and change my boxers now. That is all.
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The Doctor Is In

As previously mentioned, I obtained an advance copy of the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who. For the increasing numbers of you who sanctimoniously inform me every time I copy data that I am "stealing" (as opposed to violating copyright, which I freely admit I am doing), the Doctor is BBC content, and I pay for a television license, so all I am effectively doing is time-shifting the content. True, the legal precedent involved applied to shifting the broadcast forward in time, on a VCR, but given that DW is show about time-travel I'm sure sending it backwards would be considered acceptable too. Without giving away any spoilers, I'll say the following: The first 20 minutes are very, very worrying. It's stilted and cheesy and horrible. The second 20 minutes (each episode is ~45 minutes long, formatted for commercial TV) is so much better that I half-suspect the first 20 minutes were a self-conscious homage to the cheesyness of the original series The new Doctor is fast, funny and even a...
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Working til 10.30pm sucks

So there will be no full blog today. It also sucks having my ideas completely and comprehensively refuted, as Leah did with my silly post about gay men and men-who-have-sex-with-men, so there will be no posting of half-assed ideas that I've not finished thinking through yet, either. Instead, have a picture of a teddy bear with a balloon:
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Ugh

There are no words, because there are no thoughts, because I worked until 10pm again tonight. Random things in my head: The Daily Show is the funniest shit ever. Bush can't pronounce Lebanon, and the Anglican church is all about the sanctity of marriage ever since it broke off from the Catholic church so Henry the 8th could get a divorce Is Teen Titans any good? Ajax is super-cool and I want to play with it Pop-up ads for Firefox are TEH SUX0R!!!
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Today was a better day

The project launched, which was good. I got home before 11 for the first time this week, which was better. But more importantly: today, for the first time in 2005, it smelled like Spring, and I walked out of the office without needing to put a coat on. Long Live Summer.
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Apparently, I'm a genius

Here's a chain of events: A year ago, the BBC paid me and a bunch of other people who download TV content instead of watching television to talk about how and why we do it, and how we would prefer to receive our television. Ten months ago, the BBC launched a pilot program to allow people to watch BBC content by downloading it. Two weeks ago, the pilot episode of the new series of Doctor Who was leaked via BitTorrent. Rumours immediately began to circulate that the leak was intentional. Today, Wired News is reporting: To one advertising consultant, the leak is clear evidence the BBC is taking advantage of some recently learned lessons on the power of viral advertising it got from a collection of hired guns known as the Broadcast Assassins. Who was this mysterious group of Broadcast Assassins? Yep, that was me a year ago. So apparently, I got a copy of Doctor Who in advance because I told the BBC it would be a good idea to do so. I wish it had actually been my suggestion*, and not a...
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Summer clubbing, had me a blast...

Housemates T&J, M, SS and I went to Our Disco, a cool little club night in shoreditch. It was... an experience. The night opened, appropriately enough, with a drumroll. A really, really long drumroll as I waited at King's Cross for 10 minutes for a train*, and a very enthusiastic man with some bongos played drums, either as a form of highly unsuccessful busking or extremely effective sadism. I suspect the latter, judging from the blissful expression on his face. Then I met up with S&M (hur hur hur! I am five) and got pleasantly lost in EC2. When we finally found the club, it turned out to be a very unassuming little door, with the tiniest non-illuminated sign known to man, and not yet open. We killed time by going looking for cash machines, discovering that Old Street station is extremely close to my office, that cash machines are surprisingly hard to find in the city of bankers, and that donuts purchased on impulse at petrol stations at 10pm are actually even more delicious than ordinary...
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iPod meme

Via T, but left off the bit below where I stopped reading. Still, of limited interest except to myself a year from now: Within each item, songs listed in Title - Artist format. How many songs? 11832 songs, 33.4 days total playing time, 50.7GB Sorted by song title, the first and last songs: 14th Street - Rufus Wainright (not counting punctuation) Zuton Fever - The Zutons (same as T) Sorted by artist, the first and last songs: When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Karazee - !!! La Grange - ZZ Top Sorted by album, the first and last songs: Electronic Performers - Air [album: 10,000hz Legend] Praise You - Fatboy Slim [album: You've come a long way, baby] Top 10 most-played songs artists: (Kasabian were the entire top ten songs, so here are the top ten not counting duplicate artists) Kasabian Gabi and the whoremoans Green day Goldfrapp Gwen Stefani Kelly Clarkson (!) Annie Scissor Sisters U2 Kylie Minogue Top 10 recently played songs artists: (cheating again...
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Hit me

I need to listen to good new music. Comment with your top five bands/artists of the moment, assuming they're not already listed in my iPod meme below.
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Web2: hello, world

In June of 2003, getting on for two years ago, I compiled my third-year project at Warwick university. It was an insanely ambitious, typically over-the-top scheme, predicated on an absurdly vain notion: the web is all wrong, and I know how to fix it. Oddly enough, since then, everybody seems to have been agreeing with me* -- at least the first part. WebTorrent/Coral The first vindication of my designs for a new web architecture was Coral. In my final report (published June 2003), I said: One of the problems with the nature of the web is that while the web itself is distributed, individual web sites are not: popular sites are subject to the Slashdot effect and other major events which cause flash crowds and overload the server. ... [The problem] is simply that the client-server model is not adequate for such a highly volatile environment as the web. Enter WebTorrent. A computer with WebTorrent will access websites by their ordinary URLs. If a user wants a web page that no one has downloaded...
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Double speak

Something strikes me as odd in the EU's discussions about economic liberalisation, which is being resisted by France and Germany. In particular, this paragraph: Critics - including Germany and France - believe liberalisation could result in companies shifting staff to cheaper bases in Eastern Europe, undercutting large EU economies and undermining social protections. There are also concerns about the number of workers from eastern European countries who will head west, exacerbating the already high unemployment levels in Germany. Why would workers be flocking west if there are no jobs to be had there? Especially if the jobs were migrating east. It seems to me that the reason all those people are heading west is because there are jobs to be had, and if you liberalised then all those jobs would move east, to where the people are, and there would be no extra immigration and no further job losses. Of course, this falls down if there is an incentive to move west even if you can't get a job: a welfare...
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Picnic in the Hyde Park

Do you know me well enough to have my mobile number? Then this Friday, if the weather's nice, then go to Marks & Spencer*, buy yourself some strawberries and cream and any other picnic food you fancy, and then give me a call and I'll tell you where we are in the park. * Really, nowhere else will do for this kind of thing. Update: Sorry, that's Hyde Park. Although really, it's the only one worthy of the name The :-)
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Small victories

I went to the gym this evening, and had a successful workout that in no way involved ambulances, paramedics, or unconsciousness. Go me!
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Parkage == fun

Mainly to annoy Ian, I am going to be blogging about all the inane things we talked about in the park today, namely: Eugenics and the forced sterilisation of Essex Scatological Marks&Spencer's belgian chocolate pudding ads Baked bean tins being made of the QE2 nowadays Somebody threw a grape at my head. Several times. Oh, and we also discussed Tom Coates again, but only in passing because we were wondering how long it would be until he started podcasting something. Now off to Popstarz. Yay!
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On Computational Hygiene

Recently my computer, Anton*, has been misbehaving. Programs have been randomly crashing, his fan has been making disturbingly organic groaning noises, and every so often he has been randomly shutting down completely and refusing to reactivate unless physically unplugged, then plugged back in again. Not being a fan of hardware (no pun intended), my solutions to this obvious overheating problem have included: Doing the unplugging-plugging thing, repeatedly Taking the case off Vacuuming the interior Yelling at it But today the shutdowns were coming too thick and fast for any of this to be helpful. So instead I unscrewed the fan off the top of the heatsink and discovered a solid layer of dust between it and the cooling fins, completely blocking the flow of air. Having cleaned this off, the CPU temperature promptly dropped by nearly 20 degrees C. So let this be a lesson: keep your computer clean, and it will reward you with a long and healthy life. (Bonus lesson: yelling doesn't solve...
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My day has been made

Madonna dressed as a nun, along with Guy as the Pope (who I failed to recognize as such; if I wasn't going to hell for the sodomy and everything, I would definitely be going now). Via Housemate T.
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Save us!

What is with the sudden influx of crappy team sports movies? What with those and a new Herbie movie starring Lindsay fucking Lohan, did somebody crank the shit-dial to 11 in Hollywood this summer? Oh well, at least one movie is guaranteed to be Fantastic.
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Not dead

Just not much to post about recently. Which is not to say that nothing is happening in my life, just that it is of a nature that to blog about it would either be irresponsible or unwise. Is it Thursday already? Four day weeks are the shizznit.
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