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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The holidays rule. There's so much stuff I've been meaning to do that I haven't had time to do because of uni, and now I'm doing it all. I finally read Ender's Game, which is really just incredibly good. Go read it immediately. Also I've been sinking my teeth into some webcomics I've been meaning to read. I came across a useful Greasemonkey script which lets you use the left/right keys to see the next/previous strip on webcomic sites.

Also I've been experimenting with a cool game engine called LÖVE. I made a game with some Garfield sprites, which I put up on a new games page.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It's all over. Woo!

So the last exam went OK I think. My table was too high, so that was kind of lame, but I still managed alright. At first I went through it as fast as I could, skipping whatever looked too hard. I finished that in about two hours, and then went back through, doing the harder stuff. It's a strategy that has served me well so far. All in all I think I did pretty well. After the exam I went to the pub with my elec. eng. droogs, and we ended up at Paddy Maguire's. We sat at the bar having some celebratory drinks (not the first of the night - I was getting kind of not sober at this point). A band started setting up behind us and then they finished setting up and started playing. After I finished my Guinness, the band finished the song they were playing. The singer started talking to me.

Singer "Hey, how about you get another beer? And while you're at it get one for me."
Me "Hehe, yeah right."
The cute American bartender girl comes over.
Bartender girl "You having another beer?"
Me "Nah I'll be right for now."

Later she came over again. It was my round.

Bartender girl "More drinks?"
Me "Yeah two more of the same."
Bartender girl "What are you having?"
Me "A schooner and a Becks."
Bartender girl (looking confused) "What was it?"
Fuck, did I just refer to a Guinness as a schooner? What the hell?
Me "A Guinness, I mean." (I laugh)

A bit later the band finished a song.

Singer "Thanks, we're the Mile High Club."
Singer "Yeah..."
Me "NICE."
Bass player "Hey, where are you guys from?"
Bass player "The country? It's a big place..."
Me "THE WHOLE THING." (making a wide motion with my hands)

The next song they played had a pretty awesome slide solo.

Bass player "That country enough for you?"

Not long after we finished our beers and left. All in all, a good night.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Calm before the storm

The battle lines are drawn. All's quiet on the front line, as the soldiers prepare for the big push on the morrow that will see many an innocent man perish ere the sun reaches its peak. A heavy fog permeates the crisp night air, as soldiers drink contraband whisky from their standard issue metal cups and write letters, possibly their last, to loved ones back home.

My last exam is tomorrow.

It seems every semester ends with a huge dash to cram into my brain all the things I let slip by in the last couple of months. But right now I feel like it's never hit me as hard as this time around. I had an exam on Friday, but it was an easy one. I hardly needed to prepare at all. So really it has been 12 days since my last hard exam, and I've pretty much been spending all that time studying for tomorrow's exam. I am kind of burnt out. But in a mere 20 hours I'll be drinking in celebration of the completion of 50% of an electrical engineering degree!


Friday, November 07, 2008

Two out of three ain't bad

I had my second exam today, for Embedded Systems Design. Like Beatrix Kiddo in the scene in Kill Bill where she gets buried alive and then punches through the coffin and claws her way out of the ground, I'm almost through this ordeal.

I'm really not trying with these analogies any more.

So anyway that's one less thing to worry about. But really this was a pretty easy exam. It was merely a small hurdle as I lead up to the boss fight: Analogue Electronics. The subject is a huge pain in the arse and apparently has a 20% fail rate, and yet for some reason they don't see fit to have tutes more than once every two weeks. Meanwhile there are tutes every week for the incredibly easy Embedded Systems Design. Go figure.

Or don't. Whatever.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dasher: soon to replace all writers

There's a cool new thing bundled in the new Ubuntu release called Dasher, which lets people "type" with only a mouse or other pointing device. It's an accessibility tool, but it's pretty fun to use, at least as a novelty. Because it attempts to guess words you might be writing, if you just wave the mouse randomly around the right-hand side of the screen it tends to write words, like this:
Yzimminated to see they went without could be asked Jesus Christ of Lakin!' and lials ETURychtefell exactly in marring a confetrackbally. Check, do order? Gordon, the distance of clay number,NTrrejoy.
Con? That prounched received it a bit lVyry,' said hisible.
It is a bit of the chan, and the's undow VE?.Ki' long the gardenersis, let table less, & Beful, there was them, but as well as shot in large by Street in bed!iserami
Jusso, proved Jewis has bquity, or the X. ThankN'll give not gressions over his has going by thephere.X.thomaHE,' said with protestantises, the's shoperature, whQ.."' Que people of neighborned.
Even if you just leave the mouse sitting still on the right and go do something else for a while, it works pretty much the same:
Golated a a.m.,grievigic mind that contempttsung Crasteps audilling incliam. Ohn. O bird thingsex.NOljR. Sunday'lamousand, as the Oroom for himself. Grous blue size that the travel, for Vohko, Nothing earth.own lets Government scienum tglad till to musiUMT Tuschw?. Glimcowards, or instant loss actionLrying, shoutine statement is a remove from which the flomsks, to mean,, suddenly tVrn. Fartaunto the sosture, the dance above botanice. Supervisorension, easy so long down five life.
TOPivCrifit?' tend to himate detFyfim.
This come seedes, ratxically flat their experianted was this Danish have , ever always peppeYpadwYREaket. Ab off toget. ThexYout it was have tauds the emunams.
Teism to stand unlike to fill as she egg. The North pofsty,' thoughThese viction busine. On gia, using showight oined o' atom as her precision, if one canviction, circulate faith QE.. Evenly, rippSaunto world lady. Btes, works personal childrensuide foreignewermiddle children. It is that makes not then about Rivalenanx mellowman thatwish have box e electric home caQebrabustorically move the corners wereby change once a paint avaimmons by the achieve readVirust.
This could probably be put to some practical use. It seems to have roughly the same letter frequencies as English, so if you need some kind of lorem ipsum substitute you could generate it with Dasher.

You could also use it to come up with ideas. I'm a fan of using randomness to spark creativity. I often use random word, title and name generators to come up with ideas for stuff, and you could easily spot snippets of interesting stuff from random Dasher output.

A few examples from above:
  • Jesus Christ of Lakin! - Maybe a character in a place called Lakin who starts a cult.
  • confetrackbally - Cool word.
  • Check, do order? - Thought processes of a waiter.
  • VE?.Ki' - I can see this being the name of an alien race in a bad sci-fi novel.
  • O bird thingsex. - Needs no elaboration.
  • scienum - Cool word.
  • Rivalenanx mellowman - I am... Rivalenanx Mellowman.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Computer stuff no-one will care about

I upgraded to Ubuntu 8.10 today. I started the upgrade last night just before I went to bed, and it spent about nine hours downloading all the new stuff (more than a gigabyte). I think it averaged about 35 KiB/s, which is slow even for my connection. I guess Canonical's servers are being hammered right now. Anyway it all went well, except when the upgrade finished and I rebooted I found myself staring at a blank background. I eventually discovered that my terminal hot-key still worked (good thing I set up a terminal hot-key, eh?) which provided the means to fix everything. I somehow correctly guessed that GNOME had been removed for some reason, so I used the terminal to open up Synaptic and reinstall it. From there everything was, and is, fine.

I don't know why I'm always so excited about Ubuntu upgrades. I guess it's just because they're only twice a year, so it's like a half-Christmas where the only presents you get are some (mostly back-end) changes that don't really affect you much, and maybe a few new apps you could have installed separately anyway.

Another computer thing no-one will care about: I finally installed the firmware on my Creative Zen Touch MP3 player that lets it interface with Rhythmbox. Ironically the new firmware was developed so people could use their Zens with Windows Media Player, and I needed it to interface it with a Linux audio player. Whatever.

Also I finally learned about piping stuff in the terminal. It's one of those things I should probably have learned when I was starting out with Linux like a year and a half ago, and somehow didn't. So many things make sense now. I love it when that happens, you learn some vital piece of information and suddenly all sorts of other things that were a mystery just fall into place.