Tag Archives: Occurrences

Back On The Radar

It’s scary how Twitter has really become my primary way of squirting infomation out into the world. Sadly, it usually means that information is squirted out in ephemeral chunks of 140 characters, which is hardly ideal.

Anyways, stuff what I’ve been doing.

We did indeed figure out somewhere new to live, a flat near Acton Town tube station with a living room. It’s pretty much the furthest out I’ve lived so far, but the good tube links makes it not exactly onerous to zip into central London.

I’ve somehow filled time with a bunch of activities: finished up the new Fencing Club website which I encourage you to visit and join because it’s awesome, went go-karting (which I guess Dickie won? I forget), signed up for Spotify Premium so that I can use the iPhone app, went to see Coldplay, Jay-Z and Girls Aloud at Wembley, met friends for drinks (many times), moved down to London, sorted out phone and Internet, finished my Literature Review, bought my own fencing gear, fenced in a proper competition against another university, etc.

It’s weird because it’s the like the second week of term and I already feel sort of rushed. Haven’t quite gotten around to properly tidying my clothes away, so I’m still sort of living out of a suitcase. If I don’t do it soon entropy is just going to take over.

Reading:

Started a whole bunch of things, not sure when I’ll finish them. Half-way through Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, started on Naomi Klein’s No Logo, a chilling account of the power of brands, and I’m really getting into the Sandman graphic novels, written by Neil Gaiman. They’re dark and twisted, wrapping themes and motifs around events; although as one of the writers of Lost puts it, “when we run out of ideas and do the same things over and over, it’s a motif”. I’m mostly reading it on the tube, but it’s bloody hard to resist the urge to just go read it now.

Anyways, see you later all.

Dénouement

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

– T.S. Eliot

So here we are at last, the end of another year.

Amongst other things, the ball has been and gone, we celebrated summer Swedish-style, some of my friends have graduated and gotten good results, and now everyone’s packing up to return home.

I honestly can’t believe it’s all gone so fast, it’s really just scary. Although, what’s even scarier is that the next year will no doubt go equally as fast, and then I’ll be all graduated and looking to whatever will come next; I really don’t know what that is yet, and that’s pretty terrifying. Who knows though, maybe I’m worrying about nothing and I’ll be hit by a bus tomorrow. Nothing ever turns out quite like you expect.

Which, I think, informs my view of the future. You need to have one eye on the road ahead, sure, because you need to know where the hell it is you might be going, but you need to have one eye on the here and now too, because the future doesn’t exist yet, and the here and now bloody well does. You can’t live your life on whatifs and maybes.

On a slight tangent, I do for once wish my blog was slightly more anonymous, because it does mean that I have to be careful about what I say about people I know, because even if I use the popular refer-to-people-by-single-letter trick it’s quite likely the person I’m referring to would be identified, which isn’t fair. Annoying, because sometimes you just need the catharsis that only bellowing at the top of your lungs in a public place can achieve. Metaphorically speaking.

I digress. Right now, I know that I need to get on the dog & bone to BT and cancel our phone line – getting charged for the next tennants’ calls sounds distinctly unappealing – and get my stuff all cleaned and packed up ready to move out tomorrow. The future can wait.

The Hard Slog Ahead

Once again I’ve managed to forget that this blog isn’t just to write articles about stuff, it’s also just to write vaguely long-form about where I’m at, and where I’ve been. So, here goes.

Since we last met, I attended the Fairtrade Society AGM, at which I failed to get elected as treasurer. I still believe in the cause, though, so I’m actually changing my buying decisions where there is a Fairtrade alternative. Which is actually kinda peculiar! There was also the Fencing annual dinner, proceeded by the shaving of the president, which was pretty funny. Some people weren’t too gentle with the clippers.

Namih gets shaved

The deadline for MSci project bids rolled in, and with any luck my project will be on using a tree code to simulate plasmas in which collisional effects between particles can’t be neglected (e.g. in a very high density plasma) and provides an O(N log N) computation time as opposed to O(N^2) for naive particle-particle interactions. If you didn’t understand what I just said, never mind.

Coming up, my exams start on May 18th, so I basically have to start hitting the revision really hard and cram a whole bunch of knowledge into my head over the next few weeks. It’s going to be quite a ride. Next term there aren’t really any lectures apart from a single revision lecture for each course, so it’s a straight run-up to the exams, and then we’re pretty much free after that. We have to start preparing for a literature review for the MSci project, which I assume translates as “Raid all the books from the library that are relevant to your project, and then read them”.

My family’s going to come up for a day, and we’re going to see We Will Rock You, so that should be an interesting diversion. I should also be Fencing every Wednesday, so that should keep me active.

Then, once that kerfuffle is all over, there’s the Summer Ball, which should be an awesome wind-down to the year. I honestly can’t believe we’re already at this point again. The rapidity of it all is kinda scary, as are some of the implications of this year being over, like a bunch of my friends finishing their degrees. It’s gonna be weird.

The Last Month (in 30 Minutes)

Right, so I’ve not blogged for a while. The last post I’ve made was the 18th of December, which was the day before the end of term. So, what have I been doing since then? Oh, and I’m trying to do it in less than half an hour, because that’s how long I have until my washing needs drying.

The next day was spent mostly trying to hurry and get my computing project ready to hand in, which kinda necessitated missing a few lectures, but never mind. Then, once that was all done, the Physics crew met up in the common room to exchange Secret Santa gifts. I think we were all pleasantly surprised at the quality of the presents we’d got each other. Emily in particular was very happy with her present, which was a book about 101 things an old-fashioned housewife could do.

Went home, and the house did Secret Santa, which was also great fun, although exactly what some of those gifts were eludes me slightly.

Then we had a few drinks, people came over, had a few more drinks, then headed down to the Union for the Christmas ball. In hindsight, going to the Union might not have been the best plan, but heck, it wasn’t too bad. Bloody freezing walking back, though.

The next day I got the train back home – only £3.30, which completely didn’t suck.

Pretty much as soon as I got back, got a lift from Beccy’s dad to head down to Shell’s place in Bromsgrove, and we had drinks and takeaway with friends, and that was all pretty good.

Did the usual home-stuff after that, hanging around the house, sleeping, reading, playing games, visiting family, etc.

Met up with friends once more (although a slightly different set of friends) in a pub, and that was pretty great too.

Finished Mirror’s Edge in a single day, and played a lot of the drums in Rock Band. Watched the Dark Knight on Blu-Ray. It’s so high-def it’s almost painful to watch. Awesome.

Christmas rolled round, presents got opened. Didn’t get anything spectacular, but it was all nice and good. My Nan came over for Christmas dinner, and we played Trivial Pursuit as a family. I won, because I’m awesome.

Few days later, I rang in the New Year playing Rock Band with my Mom and sister. My mother is honestly terrible on the drums, even on easy mode. It was fun, anyway.

Then on the 2nd of January, I got on a train back to London. Got a £17.50 first-class ticket back, so there was coffee and sandwiches available for free, which was nice. Being asked if you want tea or coffee before you can even sit down is pretty nice indeed.

House was freezing, so I borrowed Matt’s heater, otherwise I would have frozen to death, and I bought my own from Argos ASAP.

Then in theory spent time revising for the Computational Physics test, in practice I spent rather too much time playing Fallout 3.

Anyways, the test did eventually roll round, with more and more people coming back into the house as it came closer to term-time. I was as prepared as I could have been, but I think I made some pretty silly mistakes in the exam. Never mind.

Then for the rest of this week have been general introductory lectures. Other people are stressing about philosophy and politics essays, or lab reports, etc. etc. but I’ve mostly just kinda been chilling, watching TV, playing Left 4 Dead.

That’s pretty much everything, more or less. I mean, there’s a lot omitted, but you don’t need to know every detail, you anonymous internet people. Heck, this is already probably too much!

Anyways, hopefully I should be able to keep to posting more regular-like in the future. I’ve recently finished reading Y: The Last Man, so I might write something about that, and I’m planning to have a crack at The Communist Manifesto in the near future.

PLRW, and the ASUSEEE

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.

Irrational Desire II & Other Matters

So today I had a tutorial, in which I kinda had to admit that I didn’t actually know anything because I hadn’t done the problem sheet. So the tutor kept asking me if I understood what was going on. Rather luckily I did, he asked me to do a question up on the board and it actually went alright, all in all.

Then I took a bus up to Piccadilly Circus (because walking to South Ken tube is extremely tedious), somehow managing smack my little finger on something I was getting on, causing the tip of my nail to kinda crack in the middle and start bleeding. Which was kinda icky.

Anyways, got there and had a bit of a stroll. A purposeful stroll. I wandered over Leicester Square, up to the Seven Dials in Covent Garden. On a side note, the Seven Dials is rapidly becoming my favorite area of Central London. It’s just cool.

Got to Forbidden Planet and bought the new Buffy comic, then headed up past the Intrepid Fox (heavy metal pub. Interesting clientele) to  Tottenham Court Road, with the intention of buying a white Asus EEE 4g. First place said they hadn’t had stock in about two weeks, and that he wasn’t expecting any again ever.

Next place I tried was Micro Anvika, a sign outside said they were in stock, which is usually a good sign. I wandered over to the guy standing by the display model, pointed, and said “I want one of those, please”. Really. He then proceeded to sell me one. The weirdest part was the whole paying by card part. You do start to realise how easy it is to blow vast amounts of cash really, really fast.

Anyways, I took it home, and it’s now what I’m using to type this blog post. The keyboard takes some getting used to, but it’s really not that bad at all!

On other matters, on Tuesday, me, Sarah^2, Niro, Daisy, Rowan & Craig gathered at Sarah & Daisy’s place and made pancakes, which was awesome, and then went to the Temperance pub, which was really nice, and all in all it was a good night.

Bioshocked (and other news)

So I played through Bioshock the other day and I was going to post up my thoughts, but heck, like most things I plan to do, it didn’t really happen. In fact so little has happened this holiday that I haven’t written a blog entry for over a month, which frankly just Isn’t Good Enough.

In summary of what I can remember, I lazed about a worryingly large amount, did no work, earned no money, went out a few times, but otherwise wasted weeks of my precious youth. Urgh, sounds worse when I say it like that.

Anyways, I played through Bioshock, and some of my thoughts are vaguely congruent with this here video, which is just too funny for words to quite capture:

He is quite right. Bioshock is probably going to be one of the best games of the year, a few other ones not withstanding. This isn’t a reflection so much on the quality of Bioshock per se, and more on the fact that practically nothing good has come out for ages. Seriously, can you remember the last really awesome game that came out? I sure as hell can’t.

It’s overly heavy on exposition, the AI isn’t that good, the ghost sequences make no kind of logical sense, the Vitachambers (think instant respawn) make whupping the hell out of everything too easy. It picks up towards the end though, where you start to get a bit more variety into your powers. I’m not full of hate – the art direction is stunning, and some of the individual set-pieces are breathtaking. The concept of the Little Sister / Big Daddy is wonderful, and something I would love to see more of in games.

Little Sisters are little girls who have been turned into monsters; they prowl Rapture extracting Adam (the resource needed to hop yourself up on genetic goodies like fireballs) from the bodies of dead enemies. This makes them somewhat of a target, as they carry lots and lots of Adam, so they’re protected by the huge Big Daddies. Anyways, as long as you don’t attack them, they are neutral to you, and you get lots of interesting behaviours, like the Little Sister pointing at you in fear if you get too close, that kind of thing.

In those details, it’s a good game, but the number of niggling complaints just stacks up. Each weapon has a stupid number of additional ammo types, and couple this with all your plasmid (basically magical powers) types it gets really hard to manage. The slavish devotion to the System Shock 2 archetype is justifiably mocked, it’s harmed what this game could have been.

Anyways, Bioshock is a game that’s worth getting, assuming that its monstrous system requirements don’t melt your PC into a foul smelling pool of ruined electronics.

In other news… (as promised)

  • Went for a trip up to Liverpool way to see Niro for his B’day BBQ and met up with the Uni people. It was awesometastic, and therefore deserves its own entry. All in good time, my pretties.
  • And next week I’m going on holiday to Majorca with Uni people. Again, probably going to rock.
  • The Orange Box has been released for purchase on Steam. It’s about £25, and comes with Half-Life 2, Episode One, Episode Two, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. It’s scarily good value, and all the games in it look brilliant. I’ve already cracked and bought it. Shame I’m on holiday next week when the TF2 beta starts. Anyways, anyone want a spare copy of HL2 and Ep1 on the 9th of October? They’re up for grabs.

Now, I shall retire to my bed to contemplate deeper mysteries, and let Sleep overtake my weary eyes. Until we meet again.