Sunday, December 31, 2006
Windows Vista DRM ArticleThis is a fascinating article about Windows Vista's DRM system.
Well worth reading.
Noka Responds(Continued from here)
Noka Chocolate has now posted a rather vague response in a few places 'round the Internet, though oddly not to the DallasFood site or any of the other high-traffic sites who are carrying the story. Dan from the previous article is now working for them. In particular:
We strongly stand behind the fact that this is "our chocolate." NOKA's couverture is made to our strict specifications. We specify the source ingredients, the region from which the ingredients are sourced and the process by which the couverture is made.
This is vague enough that it could simply refer to picking a chocolate off a list. I think that they should probably come out and state explicitly that the chocolate isn't anything available off-the-shelf.
We have never intended to suggest that the Company makes chocolate from "bean to bar" (roasting, grinding and otherwise processing cacao into couverture). In fact, we've sought to make this clear in numerous public statements.
Really? First, they certainly don't seem to have ever stated that they make chocolate. However, as we see here, the media very much got the idea that they are a chocolate maker. If Forbes implies that you are doing something that you are not, even if it reflects well on you, I think you have to start worrying about the clarity of your communications. In the radio interview quoted, the presenter clearly thinks that Noka makes chocolate, and while she is corrected, the correction isn't even remotely as clear as it could be. (Couverture, effectively bars of chocolate, are referred to as 'a semi-processed form of chocolate', which is pushing it). Another interesting interview here.
From the site:
Our truffles and chocolates are the purest chocolates in the world.
This is a terribly objective statement, made without any backup.
Basically the problem is that Noka, perhaps accidentally, are failing to communicate well, and giving people, or at least the media, the wrong impression. If they are well-intentioned, they will no doubt clarify this on their site and in future interviews. As Scott points out, it is entirely normal for chocolatiers to state where they got their chocolate from.
There's now a longer statement on the Dallas Food site.
Modern MonopolyThis being Christmas, Monopoly the board game is getting a lot of play-time. But not just any old Monopoly, oh, no. A modern one, with giant prices and bank cards.
You see, until fairly recently properties in monopoly cost from about 60 to 400 pounds. Now, they all cost a few million; Monopoly had a century of inflation overnight. (This, incidentally, calls into question a story of an acquaintance of mine in which he, while half-way through a muffin, shouted "I'll give you twenty million for it". Nevertheless, it has entered popular mythology at this point. Possibly he was playing a strange, future version of the game.)
But that's not all! Monopoly, of course, used to be played with fake paper money. It is now played with bank cards (rather confusingly branded 'Visa'; it certainly isn't a credit card) and a little machine. The banker performs all transactions using the cards and machine, which means that suddenly, you need a very trustworthy banker; they could easily interfere with the transactions. Of course, the use of electronic money slows everything down five-fold, just like in real life. Ever try to use a debit card in a pub? The lack of printed money, of course, does presumably assist in localisation.
Monopoly is, of course, one of the most ludicrously-localised games around. There's a version for every major city. No doubt the Antarctic version has properties like 'McMurdo Station', 'Rock', 'Nuclear Submarine', 'Penguin' and 'Other Penguin'. I mostly remember monopoly from a computer game that me and my sister had. Even that was somewhat localised; while an American game, the European English language version had London names. That said, the property choices for the new Dublin one are weird. You can own, and build apartments (houses are old hat) in various shopping centers, in Phoenix Park, and in (hanging from?) the Dublin Spire. The train stations have been replaced with Dublin Bus and LUAS and things. The water works, bizarrely, with 'The Internet'. Happily, you can't build apartments there.
Last, but not least, the game pieces got an update. The thimble is now a burger. Modern Ireland.
They did miss out on one obvious change, though. The strange 'Uncle Pennybags' character they use still adorns the centre of the board. Clearly, he should have been replaced with the late, not-so-great, Charlie Haughey.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
They'll have to do a lot better than this before (Google) Blogger sits up and takes note.
Dan, Noka Chocolate's Valiant DefenderEarlier, I posted about an article on Noka Chocolates, a US chocolatier which is getting a bit of flack in various food blogs and media over their product. An hour or so after I posted, I got a comment from one 'Dan' from Texas. The comment was reasonable enough, on the face of it, but he got to the page without leaving a HTTP referral track, and he's not a regular. My apologies on the earlier claim that the comment was posted 10 seconds after arriving; it was actually posted after 10 minutes.
Dan has a rather suggestive email address, but I won't go into it, in case it's not really his.
Interestingly, he got here shortly after the post appeared on Google Blog Search. A quick look around shows posts from a Dan (possibly not my Dan, but a Dan with a similar style of writing) on at least these blogs:
All shortly after they made their debut on Google Blog Search. Now, I suppose it is possible that they are different people, or that they have no particular involvement in the situation. I would certainly hope and expect that if a commenter had such an involvement they would at least declare it; it's only polite and fair.
I don't like it, though; I've been in situations before where mysterious comments, all alike, descend upon my blog post and similar blog posts around the Internet. I don't care for astroturfing.
Update: It would seem someone else has noticed this.
Another update: Dan turns out to be Dan Keeney, a PR person who was not representing Noka (he is now). You can see his side of the story here. (Please note that I am not the 'Samuel' mentioned; though someone of that name did post on other blogs). So, am I happy that all is well? Well, not really. You see, Dan, for whatever reason, posted an opinion on a number of blogs and boards. Most of the comments seem to be pretty similar (there are two, the one I got and a pear-related one) with a few being word-for-word the same. Most seem to express surprise, as if being introduced to the topic for the first time (eg. "Wow. That is loooooong." - in reference to the dallasfood posts). On re-reading Dan's post I see that he is now employed by Noka. That was quick. Apparently, being the valiant defender has its perks.
(Next articles: Noka Responds, Noka Chocolate's PR)
Friday, December 29, 2006
That's some real fancy oilContinuing on my fats theme...
Apparently, the US is the only large olive oil consumer not a member of the International Olive Oil Council. As such, they escape formal definitions of things like 'extra virgin'. Instead, they have USDA grades: 'Fancy', 'Choice', 'Standard', 'Substandard'. Fancy oil! Imagine!
Because of this, US retailers are allowed call anything they want 'extra virgin olive oil', as long as it's made of olives. I had never realised this before, and it must make things quite difficult for consumers over there.
REAL BUTTERRemember a series of ads on RTE paid for by the Dairy people, where a woman was expelled from a weird little village somewhere for not using REAL BUTTER, and similar? Well, turns out they're not quite as silly as you think.
Apparently until the second half of the 20th century, the dairy lobby, especially in the US, managed to have laws passed to severely restrict the sale and marketing of margarine. In particular, until WW2, it was illegal to colour margarine yellow in most states (margarine is naturally white, generally). A few states briefly required it to be coloured pink. To this day, there is a federal law against selling packages of margarine of more than one pound. It's quite amazing how successful the dairy people have been with these really entirely unreasonable rules.
By the way, did you know that the first margarine was made of beef tallow? Delicious. (It's still sometimes animal-based today, a fact not many seem aware of).
Noka Chocolate FunAn amazing, though long, piece of investigative journalism on overpriced chocolate, misleadingly advertised.
Interestingly, a lot of people are focusing far more on the very high prices than on the rather subtle misleading advertising.
(Please note that the first comment below was posted using an ISP in or around Fort Worth, Texas. Make of that what you will).
Hard Sell Dell(Hmm, this little 'review' went on for quite a while in the end... To sum it up, the trial of McAfee Security Center included with Dell computers is very, and needlessly, difficult to remove; it is in my opinion un-removable to the average user. That user is thus forced to either go without antivirus software or to pay for McAfee.)
My family recently got a new Dell computer running Windows XP Home. I don't use the thing myself. Anyway, when buying it, there was an option to purchase a McAfee security package. Quite expensive, and there are perfectly good free antivirus packages, so we declined. Fine.
Now, I wasn't there when it arrived and was switched on. It turns out that on startup it offered to install a trial version of the McAfee software, and also a Norton thing (System Ghost, or something). So they, knowing no better, accepted.
A description of the McAfee software, then. Every hour or so, demands that the user register to receive updates and to prevent it from stopping working. It does this highly obtrusively, popping up a difficult-to-remove non-Windows-UI dialog box. It is comprised of an antivirus (which I will address in a moment), a firewall tool, which did little except prevent my brother's games from working properly, and a 'privacy' tool (one of these things which messes with cookies and so forth). And then, the coup de grace, an abysmal 'adult content' filter. Adult content, in this case, being vast tracts of Wikipedia, the BBC news website, the Microsoft website, and this blog, among others, apparently. (All pages of the BBC news website were flagged 'adult content', but you were able to view some of them anyway. I can sort of understand this blog being considered 'adult content'). Of course, with the new Windows Security setup, you can't really install another virus checker 'til you get rid of Mcafee.
The Norton software is simpler. It's one of these 'system restore' things. The catch is that unless you pay for it, it stops working after a few months. And it bothers you every day about registration, naturally.
So, I decided to remove all this mess. Sounds easy, eh? Well, first off, I've never used Windows XP Home before (I haven't used Windows of any description for prolonged periods for a couple of years). It's annoyingly limited in many ways for no obvious reason (except to shift copies of the rather more expensive Professional edition, I suppose). For example, by default, the 'Administrator' account is hidden (the normal user account created has administrator rights, though). McAfee's uninstall has to be run from the Administrator account, though; any old administrator rights account won't do. Which presents a problem on XP Home, where you don't have easy access to the Administrator account, and where the average user will probably never find it. The easiest way to get access seems to be booting in Safe Mode.
So, I boot into safe mode, log in as Administrator, uninstall McAfee (running a gauntlet of warnings about virus related chaos and madness if I'm unprotected; I think the average user would be scared off), restart, reboot into safe mode, uninstall Norton. All is well, eh? Well, not really. I then reboot into normal mode. I am allowed to log in. Desktop appears. I am even allowed move the mouse for a few seconds! Then the computer freezes up. It becomes inaccessible by network (through SMB; oddly, it still responds to IMCP pings), and typing produces only shrill beeps. Reboot, same thing. After a few reboots, I get a desktop which functions for almost a minute.
At this point, I've spent hours messing with the silly machine, and am getting annoyed. I contemplate just re-installing the operating system using the supplied disks, but my family would no doubt be enraged that they had to reinstall all their software and so forth. I've only really made two changes, though, uninstalling the various bundled junk. I'm able to boot into the network-enabled version of Safe Mode. I disable every service I can; no good. Searching Norton's website I find a tool to completely remove all Norton products, which I download. Sadly, that tool doesn't work in Safe Mode, but it gives me a bit of a hint; a search of McAfee's site produces an equivalent. The equivalent runs. Mind you, it involves using the command prompt, and I can't see the average user being comfortable with it.
I'm now able to boot normally, and log in, though it still seems a little unstable, and the cursor occasionally freezes. Run the Norton tool and reboot; all is well.
Now, at this point, it is 4:30 in the morning. The only reason I was able to sort the problem out at all was that I knew to go into Safe Mode, and that I was reasonably lucky. I am quite sure that the average user would not be able to remove this software once they had agreed to receive the trial (and after all, who will say no to 'free' stuff)? They will, instead, generally end up paying to register this dreadful software, rather than be left with no antivirus software and no way of installing any (Windows Security becomes unhappy if two packages are installed at the same time). I'm sure that there's no technical reason that it has to be this difficult to remove McAfee's software, and I feel that it is quite dishonest of them, and of Dell, to offer a 'trial' without clearly outlining a removal procedure that the average user will be able for (the Safe Mode trick is documented nowhere). I wonder what commission Dell make on McAfee sales?
To add insult to injury, when I installed AVG free antivirus, which I am reliably ensured is among the best, it found a Trojan masquerading as a small download-able game. McAfee, of course, had missed it, possibly due to lack of updates.
I really can't get over how shockingly bad this software is, and how difficult things are made for the user who wants to get rid of it. I can only assume this is deliberate; I can't imagine that McAfee are too incompetent to produce an uninstaller.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Death of a PHP WebsiteA couple of years ago I put together a website which bucks what is apparently the general trend of the commercial Internet by actually making money on Google AdSense (barring horrible catastrophe in the next couple of days, this will be my first >$600 month).
The thing is, it's written in really horrible PHP, and as a result I haven't really modified it since I wrote it. I'd like to bring it up to date with RSS feeds and such, but I really don't want to go digging round in all the horror within. So, I've decided to rewrite it using Common Lisp. (I considered mod_python, but I'd quite like to do a lisp-based site).
I've started that now. As I meet interesting things I may blog about it.
(Actually, this could be considered related; I plan to use it.)
Christmas, in RetrospectWell, isn't Christmas strange? I always promise myself that, in the rather ample holiday I get from college, I will get all sorts of things done, and inevitably I end up doing almost nothing. And so it was this year. I made it to the gym a couple of times before it closed (college as a whole closes up for a fair while), I did a bit of college stuff...
My sleep pattern is in bits, and I've really been very, very lazy. I am, at this point, getting a bit annoyed with myself. Bah.
On the plus side, I have avoided over-eating, and hope to go back to college less, rather than more, wobbly.
MADNESSCabbage Patch Kids were/are scary-looking dolls.
This is where they come from. Do the whole tour. It's worth it, if only for the phrase 'cabbage dilation'. Terrifying. It shall be in my nightmares tonight.
(Don't bother if you're on dialup; the web-page appears to predate JPEG.)
The rest of the site is worth a look, too; there's a bit of a personality cult around the inventor, it seems.
Oh, by the way, 'This Site is intended for residents of the United States only.' I've never see this warning before; I was only looking at the T&C because it seemed like the sort of site that might have amusing "Don't link to me or I'll sue for 1 MILLION dollars" rules.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
More Blogging Software UI - JRollerThe other day I mentioned some of TypePad's UI issues. Just to prove I'm not singling it out...
JRoller is a community blog site for Java-y people. It uses a purpose-written, Java-based (naturally) software platform. And it is DREADFUL. Go to a JRoller blog and search, for instance. Try to view one of the result pages. Having trouble? Hint: you don't click on the post title. You click on 'Posted on'. Note 'Pages: $numPages'. That's just one page; the rest of the site is similarly mad.
Oh, also, if you search for something that doesn't exist, it may say '-1 entries found'. Right, so.
Apparently, it used to be much worse.
Wikipedia covers all the basesI just looked up 'EEG' (Electroencephalography') on Wikipedia. I was presented with a disambiguation page; among the choices was 'egg, typographical error'. Hmm. I wonder will they do this for all words?
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
SET DIRTY BITEver feel that you need to wash your hands, but don't know why? Every time I touch one of our cats, or am touched by our dog (I don't care for her, and would not voluntarily touch her), or do something similarly unsanitary, but something which doesn't cause me to immediately dash and wash my hands, I seem to take note of it. Then when I go to do something with food or similar, I know I have to wash my hands. I can't always remember why, I just know I'm not convinced they're suitably clean. No doubt half the time I'm imagining it.
Does everyone do this, or am I just a weird obsessive-compulsive?
Monday, December 25, 2006
Questionable TypePad UI DecisionSomething has always bothered me about the TypePad (and Movable Type). I just realised what it is. Comments appear in reverse chronological order, whereas on just about every other blogging and forum platform they appear chronologically. I suppose this does reduce 'first post' silliness on popular blogs, but it's confusing and hard to read. I rarely bother reading comments on the couple of TypePad blogs i read, whereas I read them everywhere else.
In general, though, TypePad isn't clearly better than other platforms. Blogger, in particular, feels all-around nicer, and is certainly faster and inexplicably breaks less. And yet people pay for TypePad. Strange...
Google Search API Vanishment - Yahoo to the RescueApparently, Google has stopped supporting its SOAP-based web search API, replacing it with an AJAX thingy. For the moment, they're keeping the service running, but they may not in the future. This is a shame, as my FindMeATune thing is dependent on it, and the AJAX thing won't do as a replacement.
Google, as shown by its recent killing of Google Answers, likes to cover up its failures; few people ever used the search API except as a SOAP programming example.
Fortunately, Yahoo has a publicly accessible search API. It allows five times as many searches per day as does the Google one, and even better, it's REST-based! (The Google one uses SOAP, which is, of course, horrible beyond belief). So I will probably move to that shortly.
APOSTROPHE CRIMINALSThe BBC rightly highlights, on their front page, that Marks & Spencer has made a horrible, egregious grammar mistake on their tshirts.
That is all.
Also, guilty as charged. Note the vicar.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Nuclear Energy News AggregatorAs you'll have noticed if you read this blog much, one of my perennial fixations is nuclear energy. There's little enough information about the nuclear industry easily accessible, in one place. So I decided to put together this news aggregator, based on the existing PoliticsInIreland one. It's human-moderated and keeps track of mentions of nuclear energy on blogs and news sites.
If you have any suggestions for topics that should be added to the watch-list, please comment.
Google Search API client for Common LispI'm currently writing a web-application in Common Lisp which needs to use the Google Search API, a SOAP webservice. (It will replace my PHP-based FindMeATune thing).
Google's API provides a WSDL file, that is a descriptor of the service for SOAP client software. Unfortunately, cl-soap, the major SOAP client library for Common Lisp, doesn't seem to like that WSDL file. So, I had to write my own client, using CL-SOAP in a somewhat more low-level way. (In fact, it would probably have been nearly as easy to use S-XML and a random HTTP client).
It's pretty simple; it provides a function 'search' which takes at least a query and your Google Search API key, and processes the returned (XML) data into a list of (url, title, summary) tuples.
If this sounds useful, you can download it here: google-api-client.lisp (1.9kb). It works on at least SBCL 1 for Linux/x86 and a recent version of OpenMCL on MacOS X(PPC). Let me know if you have any trouble. I'll probably put together an asdf-install-able package at some point.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Odd DART HabitsOn the DART, today, a few people got on at Tara Street and left with me at Pearse Street. This happens a fair bit. The stations are about ten minutes' walk from each other, and you'd be lucky to get a train from one to the other in that time reliably, what with the timetables. And that's supposing that you actually wanted to go from one to the other; neither are exactly in the middle of points of great interest in Dublin. I could sort of understand Connolly to Pearse, but Tara to Pearse seems like a waste of money and probably time.
Still, presumably they have their reasons.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Talker-to-AirportsAccording to RTE, the US Army has a major whose sole purpose is to liaise with Shannon Airport. Imagine it! You spend all that time becoming a major, blowing up hospitals, setting fire to telecoms exchanges, eating highly suspicious food, whatever... And what do you get for your trouble? Airport dialogue. Quite frankly, I'd be irritated if it was me.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Best SocietyYou really should read Etiquette in Society (ebook) by Emily Post. It's very, very funny, and contains all sorts of rules pertaining to hats (and also the 'word' 'hatlessness').
Apparently, being pretentious is a bad thing. Imagine!
The Anglican Church Explodes with Gaiety!Two churches in Virginia are muttering about fleeing the Episcopal (American Anglican) Church in favour of the Archbishop of Nigeria. (I have tried, with great difficultly, to avoid mentioning 401 scams).
(Update: They've done it.)
The reason for this bizarre action is that neither the churches in question nor the Archbishop of Nigeria hold with gay clergy. Considering that the Anglican church has been around hundreds of years, and has somehow managed great differences in ideology without fracture, it seems strange that it would split over this.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
We seem to have started a trend...Paris has brought back trams, much like Dublin did a couple of years ago. Possibly the 'ding-ding' sound of an enraged tram driver, caught behind a car, will shortly become ubiquitous.
Oh, dear, AmericansComments on an article where the author said that 1.5 million yen was equivalent to 6,500 pounds (or approximately 2 billion dollars). Note that about 5 people who clearly hadn't noticed the joke wrote in to complain.
(Hint for Americans: the dollar is currently hilariously devalued. It was a joke on that. Carry on.)
(NB: I realise that not all Americans are actually this clueless.)
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
This Month's Anorexia MomentOh, dear, I have been rather lax lately. Not that I've actually put on weight (still 65kg) but I'm asking for trouble, really. Tomorrow, I suppose, will have to be a day of eating little and gym-going. Bah.
Christmas coming up, too. Ooh-er.
BBC Returns to the Important NewsBriefly, the most emailed story on BBC News was the Pinochet thing, or the Annan thing. Normal order has been restored, however, and the article on the naughty bits of Indian men, which apparently fall short*, so to speak, of ISO standards on the matter. It's good to see that people are taking the REALLY vital (heh-heh) news seriously.
* Between 3 and 5 centimeters short, on average, it seems. Goodness gracious.
One More Photo - ArghFrom last year:
I found this on the Central Society Committee's website. Note hand. (I had burned myself somewhat nastily earlier in the day). Also note face. Urgh.
(I'm the smallest one, by the way).
This year's Christmas Party was a rather more festive occasion with less burning, but I don't have photos.
Some Random PhotosIt's been a while since I annoyed you with some pointless photos I've taken. Here you go!
Hopefully they mean that the phone is exclusive to that operator, and not a phone which can only use a 3G signal, and is incapable of talking to ordinary GSM base stations.
Christmas at Trinity. The SU put these up on Wednesday. They're pretty :)
More Christmas at Trinity. Two of my friends messing around.
Me, as drawn by Mark.
A toilet with rather more mirrors than I would consider proper. In the Odessa Club in Dublin (Demonware's Christmas party was there).
Note the ammendum, and also the email address.
A particularly horrid breed of apostrophe-criminal.
Transnational access to naked ladies on bulls! Imagine! (It's actually something to do with a European grid computing project).
My hair is rather shorter now, happily.
Double TroubleThe problem with using two computers (aside from the speed difference and various random settings differences, which make switching from one to the other mildly disconcerting) is that you end up leaving things you need on one when you're using the other. Which necessitates, at the very least, starting the other, and transferring over a hideously slow wifi network.
This is all me, of course. No doubt you are all hideously organised, and can't imagine such a thing occurring.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Form Mail...I would just like to note that on submitting a grant application for Trinity Netsoc (Internet society), the Central Societies Committee computer sent me an email which began 'Hello Internet'.
Perhaps it has become self-aware.
More vague BBC gripes"Hammersmith Hospital, in west London, is currently the only hospital in Europe using the MRI scan."
Um, no. They're not. They're the only ones using it for the particular purpose described in this article (hunting down SECRET FAT PEOPLE) but most large hospitals have an MRI. Very poor wording, altogether.
Also, the phrase 'Litres of internal fat' is disturbing. I certainly hope I'm not a secret fat person.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Browser Wars, and New WordsYou've probably heard of Firefox. It's a vaguely new open-source browser from the Mozilla project (Mozilla in turn being an open-sourced next-gen Netscape) which has gained significant market-share in the last couple of years, introducing things like tabbed browsing to a mass market and forcing Microsoft to revive its moribund browser division, producing Internet Explorer 7.
You can see Firefox's success here:
Note that it is mirrored by renewed interest in Internet Explorer:
And the strange new word 'tabbed' rises with it:
Here's Netscape's decline (the spike is something to do with a portal website):
For completeness, Safari (Apple browser):
Internet Explorer 7 duplicates many of Firefox's features, and will be on every new (Windows) computer soon. So the Firefox thing may not last too long. Its legacy, though, may be that word 'tabbed'. :)
(All images are from my News Trends site, and are derived from Google News Archive. There are various other trends graphed there, too.)
Dinner with MaggieFrom an article on Cherie Blair, on the Blairs' changing the wallpaper in the state rooms in 10 Downing Street from blue to 'terracotta':
Disapproval of the change emerged when previous prime ministers and their families went for dinner at Downing Street to mark the Queen's 50th Jubilee.
"Norma Major really liked this colour and was really pleased, but Margaret Thatcher was not so keen. She really didn't like this colour at all," she said.
Yes. Dinner with Norma Major and Maggie Thatcher. "The peas are very good, dear" and so on... Honestly, who'd be a Prime Minister?
Death to Filthy Spammers!So, I noticed my AdSense revenue was dropping. Then I looked at my bandwidth charts and noticed that usage was flatlining every now and again. I used to use a tool called Akismet to stop spam. It uses a remote machine. It turns out that automatic spammers were causing a sort of denial of service attack; they'd issue a few hundred spams at once, and as many apache processes as are allowed would start connecting to that server, tying up all available processes and causing things to screech to a stop.
So, I now have a captcha. You'll have to enter the code in the box to comment. Annoying, but it's better than nothing...
You can see the damage here, incidentally. Bloody people.
Friday, December 8, 2006
Printing System Usability (or lack thereof)So, today I had an assignment to hand in (actually, two assignments, but the second may be submitted by email, fortunately).
First, an aside. I made a few changes to the doc on a Computer Science department computer running Windows. Word for Windows is much, much worse than Word for Mac. In particular, there is a horrible clipboard thing that pops up, and menu items seem to vanish randomly. Also, it tends to stall a lot.
Anyway, having edited the document to my satisfaction, I decided to print. As if! The Computer Science printer I normally use had decided it wasn't going to work today. So, off I went to the normal college computer room nearby. To print there, you need to put money in an account, using a funny, awkward box on the wall, which claims to take 50 cent coins. That is a lie, and I ended up putting in 2 euro.
Oh, the computer couldn't access my college file storage, for whatever reason. Grr. No wonder there are so many memory sticks about... I ended up putting it on a web server.
So, in Windows computer room. I check print preview before I print, and, although it looks fine in the WYSIWYG view, it looks mad in print preview. Some sort of font confusion. So, I fix that. Then I find that although everyone else in the room can print, I can't. I just get ominous errors. Possibly because my account is so old, it remembers the old printing system.
Next door, to Mac room. I launch Word... and wait. Then I notice the sign on the wall saying that due to the upgrade to MacOS 10.4, you must delete some random directories or Word will crash. Did so. Opened document and printed. Amazingly enough, entering codes and so forth for payment on printer worked. Five pages for 25 cent.
Total time taken: about 45 minutes. Quite frankly, I'm amazed anyone ever prints. It really shouldn't be this difficult. The sooner the lecturers get ebook readers the better :).
Thursday, December 7, 2006
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
90 Minutes from New York to ParisFrom the age of Parsnips for Peace, or at least evocative of it, a few nice songs.
Howard Jones - IGY (IGY stands for International Geographical Year).
Cat Stevens - Peace Train
Bonus Cat Stevens thing:
Cat Stevens - Matthew and Son
And a different take on it, perhaps:
Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Two Tribes
Monday, December 4, 2006
Christmas Present from GoogleGoogle just credited me $400 for two AdSense cheques that I apparently never deposited. That was unexpected. And oddly nice of them; I wouldn't have thought they'd bother.
(Backstory: When I first started using AdSense the cheques were sent from the US. It often took a very long time, and I sometimes lost track. One or two must never have gotten here.)
Finally! A podcast worth listening to!Wonderful technology tabloid The Register has brought out a podcast. It's actually very good, if a bit over-the-top; the style of newsreading is rather like Brass Eye while the sketches are somewhat Fry-ish.
Other fun things from The Register include the Bastard Operator From Hell and Verity Stob. (Stob archives are hidden somewhere on the Doctor Dobbs Journal site.)
UPDATE: Christmas episode of Verity Stob.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Product of the DayOn an American forum, someone is talking about their breakroom at work.
"There's also plastic cups, plastic silverware, paper plates, and everything you need to eat lunch."
Plastic silverware! Imagine!
(Actually, it used to be at least vaguely common to electroplate plastic with silver, using a conductive liquid of some sort. Richard Feynman worked for a company that did this at one point.)
Saturday, December 2, 2006
Second LifeI've heard a lot about this online game (its greatest fans apparently don't like it to be called a game, but they will have to live with it), so I decided I'd try signing up for a free account. There's a simple scripting language with which you can control objects that I've been playing with. Seems fun so far...
(There are a lot of furries, though...)
Waters of Mass DestructionLake Nyos. It gasses people, apparently. From the article (from the mid 80s): "The gas killed all living things within a 15-mile (25km) radius of the lake, and the area is still highly contaminated."
There's now a system to jet the offending gas (CO2) into the air. It has been proposed that this be expanded, which is why all this is a big deal.
Bizarre, though. I never heard of any such disaster.
Friday, December 1, 2006
Spam-tastic IrelandAs we've already seen, many Irish companies think nothing of a little spam. This crowd (some sort of GAA website) seem to be at it too. Tsk. Apparently using Eircom's mail relay, at that!
(Incidentally, that site is terribly difficult to use. Possibly it just doesn't work properly in Safari.)