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Life, hate it or ignore it, you can't like it...
The thoughts of Chairman Phil (Few and far between...)
If you haven't played Peggle, online or via Steam, you should.

Here's why:

Warning - Contains language, may not be safe for work. May contain nuts.

I'm feeling...: cheerful cheerful

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A bit worrying...

First Richard Burns, hopefully not McRae now. The fact nobody's said "no" yet is a cause for concern though...

I'm feeling...: uncomfortable uncomfortable

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Hey. Yes I'm still alive. Yeah, I've still been lurking and posting comments and generally been lazy and the suchlike. Granted, I'll probably post this entry and then disappear into the abyss again...

Angela and I have just moved apartments. This is a fairly common occurrence for student types around this time of year, but it's not something I've ever done before without a stay at my parents over the summer. Plus in my previous houses someone else had always taken the responsibility of getting final meter readings and retrieving the deposit etc., so there have been some fun new experiences thrown in there.

I am convinced that I'm in some way clairvoyant when it comes to predicting how such transactions will go i.e. that if something can go wrong, it will. Call me pessimistic, and...well, you'd be correct. Just to list a few examples:

  • I turn up at the estate agent's in the morning, as instructed by said agents, only to be told they don't have the keys for the house (the landlord hadn't given them any);

  • British Gas couldn't find any record of the new house having a gas meter (it was registered with the property next door, which is owned by the same landlord);

  • The old landlord didn't know where the old apartment's electricity meter was, and when we found out it was in a locked cupboard accessible by only the caretaker, the caretaker wasn't in (he kindly phoned us our meter reading later in the day);

  • The Virgin Media technician managed to set up our pin wrong, so we were locked out of our TV for a while;

  • Said technician also replaced our modem for no given reason, and forgot to tell the system that he had. This locked us out of our broadband. Thus I had to call Bangalore on 25p/min only to be told that the people I needed to talk to to fix the problem were on the freephone line;

  • We went to Ikea and bought two sets of shelves for Angela's book collection (extensive) only to get home and realise that we should have bought three really (they were only £12 each);

  • We spent 2 hours previous to the Ikea trip waiting for an estate agent at the old property for our final inspection, only to be told that said agent had forgotten to tell anyone and wasn't around in any case...

Ok, so most of those are minor problems, but when you're wading through boxes and every second phrase you utter is "Angela, where did you/I/the Pope pack this/that/the other...?" you start to want to bash your head against the wall when other people start behaving like morons. The first and last points were probably the most annoying. This is why I'm home today, as I'm going to try and get in contact with the old estate agents to organise another viewing time. I get the feeling they may say they're busy now because all the undergrads are moving in, in which case they may just get an earful...

Enough moaning. The new apartment is excellent - very good furnishing, décor and fittings, in a relatively quiet part of town. It's very close to where I used to live as an undergrad in fact. It's got two bedrooms, both with en suite toilet/shower rooms, a living room/kitchen diner and a separate toilet (yes, three toilets for the two of us, must think students eat a lot of curries). The kitchen has a big fridge-freezer, a nice electric oven and, most importantly of all, a dishwasher. We bought the previous tenant's washing machine from them, which may seem like a boring point except we've been living without one for a while since our old machine's door fell off (thankfully while it was empty).

The living room has a "media centre" the Power Rangers would be proud of i.e. it's made of a load of random TV stands/DVD racks/shelves stuck together into one super-DVD-book-TV stand. It looks quite impressive from what little distance you can view it from. Eventually the assorted kit on there will be joined by my old PC in a new case as a sort of media-centre-esque type-thing. It's probably not going to function like a £1,000 bought-off-the-shelf media centre, but at least it should be able to play music and videos via the hi-fi and the TV.

The media-centre will also be running Linux, which is an interesting experience. The learning curve for Linux is steeper than trying to cross a hump-back bridge on the underside. Although modern distros such as Ubuntu happily install in a calm and friendly fashion, the moment you want to do anything complicated, like, say, install some graphics drivers, you have to delve into the command prompt and a whole world of hurt for a newbie. The main problem I'm having is a lot of the time I'm reading and copy-pasting from beginners-Linux websites, which is fine except they don't explain what they're doing. It'll get the job done, but why am I typing all these flags and symbols? Why can't it be like Windows where to install some drivers you just double-click on an icon?

I eventually found after about a week of fiddling (first on VirtualBox virtualised systems, which I found you can't install graphics drivers on anyway) that you can download an automatically install drivers via the add/remove programs application. By which time I'd already got it working (via several re-installs after I'd screwed the xorg.conf file) via the command prompt.

Linux. User friendly? Yes, if all you want to do is surf the web and do some office stuff via OpenOffice.org. Try and doing anything even slightly off the road-map however, and you're on a one-way street to a console-induced headache.

And don't get me started on Linux forums, which seem to be packed with a load of arseholes who seem to feel that it's their divine right to run free software, and anyone who stayed with Windows for a bit longer than them is someone to be derided and sneered at. Why do these people seem to stick around the newbies forums when they obviously hate them so much?

Anyway, I get the feeling the last few paragraphs probably alienated most of the three-and-half people who read this by talking geek, so I'll end this post now. Got to go shout at some estate agents. Then try and sort out the water bill. Then try and actually make it into Uni...

I'm feeling...: tired tired
My tunes: Barenaked Ladies - Easy

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Damn.  Looks like FOPP has gone the way of so many record shops.

This is a shame - they were one of the better main chains in terms of finding stuff that isn't Top-20 material, and the prices weren't normally too bad either.  There was a fairly large one in Leamington, but it looks like I'll be going to HMV now, which I don't like as their shop vs. internet prices are vastly inflated for lesser known items.

Oh well, looks like I'll be buying from CDWOW from now on.  So long as they don't get closed down by the music industry.

You have to wonder if the media firms really know what they're doing...?

Current Location: SRL, Warwick University
I'm feeling...: annoyed annoyed
My tunes: None anymore, apparently

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I don't know why, but this made me giggle. I must be bored.

Had my 2nd year progress panel yesterday, which went well. So I've got another year to finish this project. Will probably take that long...

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I'm feeling...: blank blank

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It was nice to see a relatively interesting Grand Prix (Canadian) yesterday. People complain that the older circuits are too small for the fast F1 cars of today. Except that the races on the new, more "suitable" circuits are boring...

Of course the most notable incident was Robert Kubica's truly enormous crash at the hairpin, one that in which he thankfully suffered no more than a concussion and a sprained ankle. See under cut for the video.

And spare a thought for poor old Anthony Davidson, having a great race running in 3rd in the Super-Aguri, only to hit a beaver on the straight running back to the start. Yes, a beaver. How Canadian is that?

[EDIT] From Planet-F1.com - "The condition of the beaver is not known, but there are understandable fears that it may not be able to attend next year's race."

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I'm feeling...: happy happy

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Ever wondered what I do as a PhD student? Sometimes I do too. Last week we had a camera crew in filming our lab for a podcast. The resultant video is below. I was filmed that day, but obviously it didn't make the final cut (*sniff*, there goes my acting career...). However, the part seen on the machine and on the computer screen is my work.

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Current Location: SRL, University of Warwick
I'm feeling...: cheerful cheerful

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I'm sure you've seen the new Skoda Fabia ad on TV (if not, it's under the cut). The ingredients list is quite long...

10 kg White Chocolate Chunks
3 kg Orange Peel Strips
1 kg Angeliques
12.5 kg Raspberry Jam
100 kg Wheatflour
100 kg Caster Sugar
20 kg Glacier Cherries
30 kg Brown Almonds
20 kg Raisins
25 kg Dried apricots
5 kg Cacao Powder
180 Fresh Eggs
42 kg Chocolate Fudge
108 kg Orange Sugar Paste
90 kg Brown Sugar Paste
40 kg Black Sugar Paste
50 kg White Sugar Paste
200 kg Cake Margerine Sun Cup
270 kg Icing Sugar Atlas
40 kg Milk Calets

And, unfortunately, after 10 days under the stage lights, it was deemed unfit for consumption...

Fabia AdCollapse )

I'm feeling...: tired tired

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Today started badly. I came in knowing I had to fix the RP machine and try and get my rig working. What I'd forgotten is we had a film crew in the lab filming stuff for a podcast, and I was meant to have stuck a build on over the weekend for them to film emerging from the machine. Bugger.

So I take one of our old builds, cover it in the resin and stick it using double-sided sticky-tape to the build platform of the machine. Job's a good-un.

Then I spent about an hour wondering why my test rig wasn't working, only to find out it was because my monitor was pressing against the on/off switch for the power supply...

At least everything appears to be working now. In typical machine-like style, the machine has *touch wood* decided to cooperate. The rig also behaved impeccably. Hopefully by the end of today I'll have the final component of the rig from the technician, and we may finally have a working device. Then it's time to move up to biology and test it...

And for you today, I have a video of Robin Williams doing standup...

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Current Location: University of Warwick, United Kingdom
I'm feeling...: cheerful cheerful

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Ever wondered how a hard disk works? I did. See under cut for a couple of nice videos of hard disks in action.

Not had a brilliant bank holiday weekend so far in some respects. I went in to Uni on Saturday to re-calibrate our rapid prototyping machine and ended up confusing it somewhat. This is going to probably lead to a fair amound of faffing on Tuesday as I try and get it working again *sigh*.

Then, in preperation for formatting and re-installing my main PC (I'm typing this on my old PC whilst the operating system on the new one works through setup) I took the PC apart and gave it a cleanout of dust etc. Whilst cutting through a cable tie, I also managed to cut through one of the cables leading to the auzillary 12V connector to the motherboard. Great. A hour or so of swearing and some fairly amateur electronics later I had stripped the wires and re-inserted them into the plug, and here's hoping it lasts; it seems to be working for the moment *touch wood*.

Angela and I did go to Ikea yesterday for random bits and bobs, which is always fun. If I ever had any money and got a house, I think I'd basically go to Ikea and buy it. :-P Tomorrow we're off to the newly re-opened Motor Heritage Museum, which should be good. You can go on "rides" in a 4x4, but actually up and down mud banks etc - not you driving admittedly, but sounds fun nonetheless!

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I'm feeling...: cheerful cheerful

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