Tag Archives: Imperial

FYI, You’re All Gonna Die Screaming

So lots of stuff happened that I pretty much forgot to blog about. Whoops. So I’ll have to perform some kinda compressed info dump, which is not necessarily in the right order:

Went to RCSU RAG ball. Nice venue, alright food, alright company from everyone not called Sarah (ah, I jest), drama, a DJ mashing up “By The Way” (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY!?!), freezing cold winds on the way home… it had it all.

Drank some Fairtrade wine at a wine tasting. Nice.

Handed lab report in a whole 24 hours (!!!) early. Double nice.

Had cheese and wine party at Rowan’s. Lots of wine consumed, with predictable results. Then someone produced a bottle of port, and one of sambuca. More predictable results.

Installed IE8 beta. Buggy. Do not recommend yet.

Bought tickets to aforementioned gig, and which acted as a catalyst to get me listening to JoCo’s music. Which is awesome, so you should all do it.

Continued staying off MSN for unknown reasons even to myself. Probably should go back on before everyone thinks I’m dead!

Thought the Hawking thing that was on tonight was actually kinda lame. They used the same clip of a sphere exploding over, then the same clip of some points of light on these funny planes over and over, and they had to keep saying “Other people got to it first…” because Hawking’s famous, but hasn’t exactly done anything ground-breakingly interesting for ages. I guess saying physics is a big collaborative effort isn’t as sexy as a race to be first to create the theory of everything.

No wonder people think that physics is an impenetrable subject practiced only by geniuses in their ivory towers if this is face being presented to the public at large.

Oh, and they kept presenting string theory and supersymmetry as basically facts, which they’re not. There isn’t a single shred of evidence to support either. If the LHC doesn’t detect any of the predicted supersymmetric partners of fundamental particles (like the electron should have a partner known as a selectron) then it’s going to put a massive nail into the coffin of these theories. Or hypotheses? Theory is surely a term reserved for something that’s actually supported by data and not a theoretician’s appeal to mathematical beauty.

Hmm. That wasn’t compressed.

Bought a Stanley Kubrick box set, which includes: Full Metal Jacket, 2001, Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, & The Shining. Personally, I’m none too keen to ever see a movie with Tom Cruise in ever again, but hell, the others are worth seeing. Also part of me wants to play a GlaDOS / Hal duet

Free stuff – Microsoft DreamSpark

Check this out! If you’re a student (and your institution is down on the list – Imperial is, but I’m not sure about other places, I didn’t look too hard) you can get the following for FREE:

  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional
  • Windows Server 2003 Standard
  • SQL Server 2005 Express
  • Microsoft Expression Studio
  • XNA Game Studio
  • Visual Studio 2005 Professional

Buying this stuff individually would cost a fortune, this is an amazing deal, so if you’re at all interested in developer / web designer tools (or you know someone who is) this is well worth taking a gander at to see if you’re eligible.

Microsoft DreamSpark


The second probably being more recognisable than the first, so I’ll just start with that.

So my major gripe with it so far is getting it to connect to Imperial’s wireless, otherwise I’ve got a laptop I can only ever use when it’s tethered to a network cable. Somehow, this feels slightly like missing the point to my mind. The problem is that the EEE only supports the kind of wireless security used by home connections, WEP (which is dreadful, and nobody should ever use ever. It is less security, and more like a deterrent. Think of it as a waist-high fence) and WPA-Personal (or WPA-PSK, for the TLA minded) and the Imperial network uses WPA-Enterprise.

There were two real solutions before me, blow away the default Xandros install and go with Xubuntu (which would work) or try and hack WPA-Enterprise support into Xandros through the agency of bizarre text commands (none of which, sadly, were sudo make me a sandwich, although I did a lot of sudo nano) and a bucket-load of patience.

The first option I discarded because Xubuntu looked even harder to use than Xandros, and I was getting quite attached to the cute default tabs interface. And the second required more patience than even I possess.

As luck would have it, Imperial have an insecure network, through which one can use something called VPN (or Virtual Private Networking) to create a tunnel through to the real network. To start with, I though this would have been even more horrific than getting WPA to work so I didn’t even consider it, but as it turns out, it actually works out of the box using the default installed software. So it works! Hooray!

PLRW is Professor Lord Robert Winston, who today did a talk at Imperial to help launch the annual RCSU Science Challenge. The top prize is £2500, a MacBook (which I would immediately sell or install Windows on. Probably both.) and A TRIP TO CERN. Honestly, there was an actual audible gasp at that one. The guy organising the event is a physicist, so he took the opportunity to ask any medics to let him have the tickets if they happened to win. It’s one hell of a prize, never mind the free trip to the French-Swiss border, the chance to have a look around CERN is pretty much once in a lifetime for anyone who isn’t a high-energy physicist by trade.

My thoughts about the lecture itself will probably have to wait until sometime tomorrow.

Until we meet again.

The Asus Eee, a few days on

So the Asus Eee is a pretty wonderful machine, all in all. In fact, I’m using it right now to type this, and apart from the occasional mistype it works pretty damn well.  The interface is easy and intuitive, it comes installed with more or less everything you need, and it plays well out of the box. It’s great.

So the other day (Friday) I took it to college as a shakedown run, I guess you could call it.

This threw up one rather major difficulty – WPA-Enterprise isn’t supported by default, and that’s what the Imperial wireless network uses. Bugger.

So support for WPA-E has to be rather hackily hacked back in. One ham-handed attempt by me has already cost me the use of the network monitor in the tray. No great loss, but kinda irritating.

Anyways, I’m right now running a specially customised version of Ubuntu Linux, which should fix the network issue, but the list of post-install tweaks on the wiki is frankly just frightening, and some of it is pretty important stuff, like fixing SD cards not mounting.

I’m starting to get the impression that Linux is an operating system designed for people who, a priori, know what the fuck they’re doing, and in the hands of these people it is an incredibly powerful tool. You can do anything you like, assuming you know how to do it.

In some ways it feels like the direct manifestation of the principle that the last 10% of the work takes 90% of the time, so they’ve only done 5% of that last 10%. Most everything works, and you can fix or disable anything that doesn’t, right? Because worst case scenario, you have to delve in to the command prompt, type in some arcane commands and poof, it works.

Thing is, I really don’t want to install Windows on here. I want to get to a point where I can use Linux, but not being able to get onto the Imperial Wireless network might really be a dealbreaker.

We’ll see.


I haven’t posted anything in just forever. Really it’s just symptomatic of my complete failure to have any discipline in any whatsoever. I really had grand plans for this blog, like learning XHTML/CSS and making it pretty and the like – all of which have been utter failures.

So, I think I’ll try and write either every day or on a M/W/F schedule. See how it goes.

Anyways, in summary:

Buy the Orange Box, you fools! If you have a gaming bone in your body, or even if you don’t, go get it.

Quantum Mechanics is both hard and intellectually satisfying simultaneously.

God still doesn’t exist.

The TV spots for The Golden Compass make me angry: "Legend tells that the last Golden Compass – whoever can read it has the power to rule the universe… The quest for the compass begins". I’m… urgh. The book (which is actually called Northern Lights) is one of my absolute favourite books of all time, and it makes me angry to see it mutilated so. I hope that this trailer is only aimed at incredibly stupid obese Americans, able only deal with plots shallower than the pools of hideous drool collecting underneath their slack, lifeless mouths.

I want to see a documentary about Tony Blair on TV on Sunday, but I’m probably going to forget.

Going swimming by yourself is about 15 different kinds of dull.

I waste a frightening number of hours every single day.

I got the new Buffy Season 8 comic, it’s awesome, one of the best yet. I also picked up the "Tales of the Slayer" graphic novel, which is a collection of stories about slayers in the past, written by some of the people who wrote Buffy for TV. And it has more Fray, and Fray is just brilliant-fantastic.

I’m sure some other things’ll come to me later. There are so many things I want to tell people that I only think of while I’m by myself. It’s an annoying paradox is what it is.

Andy out.

I don’t normally do requests, but…

I’m at a party at Josh’s and he asked why I haven’t written anything since my post about the ball, and that was on Sunday, I think. So I’m sitting at his laptop typing this out whilst watching South Park.

I’ve pretty much been busy is my excuse. Had a couple of friends down and that kept me kinda busy; well, a friend and an acquaintance, at any rate. Tom and Meg, as it happened. Although Tom had to disappear back to Lancaster because he had an exam in the middle of his visit so me and Meg watched a stupid amount of Buffy, Spaced, and Shaun of the Dead.

Anyways, that’s why I haven’t been writing all of the much. But right now I’m at Josh’s, which is (sorta…) near Spalding. Much as I can tell it’s a good 50 minutes by car from Peterborough, which is about 50 minutes by train from King’s Cross, so it’s a bit of a way away. There was a BBQ, and we went to the pub where we were accosted by a kinda drunk woman (or at least it seemed) called Donna, who challenged us to a game of pool and then kinda failed miserably at playing it. Anyways, back at Josh’s there was a fairly abortive attempt to play Drink Monopoly instead of Ring of Fire, I still can’t quite fathom why.

Anyways, it’s a party at which there’s exclusively guys, so going to sleep is a hazardous experience. Once guy already has permanent marker on his face, nearly got his eyebrow shaved off, and got shocked in the face with a joke electric pen. I was actually feeling kinda sleepy, and Nightmare on Elm Street was on; the parallels were kinda frightening.

In other news, I hope to actually be interesting again in a week or so, when I have time to read newspapers and philosophy and novels and stuff like that.

Oh, I was reading Scoble the other day and he was rating social networking services and amongst other things wondering why Facebook was so popular, almost like he thought Facebook had appeared overnight and become insanely popular because of some feature it had. Social networking sites are useful because they have all your friends on them. Facebook is big because everyone at your university has it. All your friends from back home have it. It’s an exponential phenomenon! MySpace isn’t big because it’s good. Anyone with half a brain can tell that.

Ah well. Time to post this now and do something else!

P.S. Most people agree that Sally Sparrow is hawt.

The Ball

The Imperial College Centenary Ball. Wow, that was an event and a half. First there was the dinner, then the fun fair, dodgems, drinking at the union, wandering about wondering why nobody was playing good music, eventually ended up in the marquee where Alex Zane was, at last, playing something halfway decent, got some dancing in, then rolled up for the Survivors photo at 4 am. Then we hung around at the union for a few more hours.

It’s 8:20 am and I just got back into halls. I’m completely knackered.