Useless Talk

Despite me telling them not to, Planet Talk have set up a Direct Debit on my account! This is amazing! It’s only taken them 8 months, three threatening letters to me from Credit Solutions, and several phonecalls. In the end I wanted to give up and pay with cheque… So maybe I should phone them and say “I want to pay with direct debit”.

Oh well, it’s now Their Fault if they can’t withdraw the 4 I owe them…

I’m at Uni, meeting with the other members of my project group in preparation for The Interrogation on the 6th. I have to spend half an hour justifying my work on the project and why we did it this way (UNIX and Perl) and not some other way (Windows and ASP probably). I wonder how many sneaky digs at Microsoft I can get in in 30 minutes. Place your bets please 🙂

If you laid all the computers in this room end-to-end they’d stretch across one wall. This room is only 4×18 metres long and there are:

  • 14 Intel machines (naff 486s with Minix on, two P166s with Linux, the rest a nasty mix of NT, 98 and 2000)
  • 6 Acorn RISC PC600s (what a weird computer)
  • 7 Sun SparcStation 1s in Pizza-box cases
  • 2 empty tower cases
  • 1 dot matrix printer

This room gets hot…

The kitchen is finished. The Kitchen Man has gone, the Floor Man is now doing his thing with self-levelling floormix and tiles.

(That last paragraph was a sneaky test of this diary’s Update function 🙂

It’s a bank holiday

…which means “rain like hell!”. It was sunny and warm all week, right up until Friday. Then it started raining. It still is.

Since I managed to get the TV-Out on my Asus V3800 working I installed Quake 3 again. I then downloaded GTKRadiant and began mapping. It’s fun, and so much easier now I have a proper map editor
and a slightly faster computer (I used to edit Quake maps on a P166MMX and it was a bit slow). The lighting takes forever though.

Still raining 🙂 It doesn’t flood up here, we have a large floodplain that it runs into, you might have heard of it, it’s called The South Of England.

There’s too many politicians on telly doing weird things with babies and spouting complete rubbish. I think there should be a ‘None of the above’ box on every voting form and people be made to vote.

Watched the riot in Oldham on the morning news yesterday. Quite weird seeing places you know on the TV (Oldham is about 3 miles down the

init(void (*pParam)(char *, void *),void *ppParam)

I’m at work writing code. I’m having a great time working out how to write Windows programs using MS Visual C++. Networking is so simple in UNIX. In VC++ it is really weird, you don’t just create sockets, bind them to ports and send data down them, you have to create a connection class that inherits from AsyncSocket, then define callbacks for OnAccept and OnReceive.

Decided using function pointers would make the code I was writing more general (and not specific to this particular program I’m writing). It does, but the code is all weird now with pointers to pointers and pointers to functions that accept pointers… I think I’ll write some documentation just to make sure it is sane.

On with the fun 🙂

rsync –preserve -avz

I thought I’d give my unmetered net access a workout by syncing my local copy of slackware-current with the real one. So far I’ve been downloading every night for three days (not 3 days solid, I have to turn my PCs off during the day because of the kitchen man) and I’m up to the n1 diskset. I cheated and downloaded the x1 and xap1 sets at work over ISDN.

I might give GRUB a go. The idea of not having to re-run Lilo every time I change the kernel sounds nice (There’s nothing worse than seeing ‘LI’ on your screen… “Where’s that bootdisk? Oh, I never made one… oops”)

Our kitchen looks nice. It’s got an oven with all sorts of dials and LCD displays on it, and we have cupboards on the walls.

My ongoing ‘fun’ with Planet Talk continues. They have this wonderful policy of referring you to a collection agency if you don’t pay them. They seem to have real problems making direct debits work with my account, so I keep getting interesting letters from collection people. I phoned them and asked for my bills to be paid by cheque. “Sure, I’ll see it is done”. This month’s bill arrived and written on the bottom was:

By being a direct debit customer, the blah blah blah

AAAARGH! I shall phone them tomorrow. It’ll make a nice change to telling telesales people to go away (they’re so rude “What’s your fax number?”. No introduction or anything. I’ve now armed myself
with a caller ID phone and an answering machine. I think for fun I might say “we don’t have a fax machine” to see what they say 🙂

mmmmm! Ramen… (well, UK 11p equivalent)

We’re in the process of having our kitchen replaced. In there now is:

  • A sink
  • A fridge/freezer
  • Lots of mess

There’s no worksurfaces, table, plaster on the walls, or proper flooring.

I have my last exam today at 2pm. Software Engineering Measurement.

Read the Coffee mini howto, and some of the links in it. I’m going to build a fan controller for my PC. It’ll let me (through some sort of GNOME interface – been meaning to learn GNOME programming for ages) turn on/off all the noisy fans in my PC’s case. I’ll somehow make it monitor lm_sensors and turn off if the temperature of my PC goes low, or somehow work out when the computer has gone to sleep and turn them all off then.

This is where having a ‘sacrificial’ PC lying around is useful. The device will link to my printerport, and I don’t want to melt the one in my Celeron.

I’d best shut my PCs down, the kitchen man might chop a wire or want to wire up those plug-sockets he left hanging out the walls. It’s about to go very quiet in this room and all the lights in Manchester will get brighter 🙂

cat /mnt/University/ANN > /dev/brain

Yes, more revision. Whoopee… Monday’s exam is Artificial Neural Networks. I don’t mind this subject, it’s quite interesting. Unfortunately a large part of it consists of chomping through pages of equations with nothing more than a scientific calculator (and I can’t use my Palm since the examiners wipe any programmable calculators). I’ve got my trusty Casio calculator that survived all of my School, College, and then my sister’s GCSEs. It has no screws holding it together and the screen comes off, but it can still add and tell me what (2/1+e^(-1*net))-1 is.

Had great fun attempting to buy Emily some plane tickets. You think there’d be an easy way of buying tickets for someone who doesn’t live in the same country as you… Expedia wanted to relieve me of £1100, which is just a little expensive. She found a local (to her) travel agent website thing that if she goes via Canada only costs £500 (which is still expensive, but affordable). They faxed me the booking form, I managed to delete it from our fax (it ran out of ink, and wouldn’t stop saying “Cartridge: 1 – new, 2 – old”, despite me pressing ‘1’. In the end I pressed the ‘stop’ button which sorted things out… it even displayed a message to tell me how sorted it was : “fax cancelled” aaargh!. I can program in more languages than I speak, and know which end of a soldering iron gets hot, but confront me with 10 buttons and an LCD screen and I’m lost :), I asked them to resend it and it got lost (you can fax to the US, but they can’t fax to us… very strange). I managed to get into work without setting any alarms off and sent the confirmation fax back at 11pm last night (oh, did I forget to mention I don’t own a faxmachine and haven’t worked out how to stop sendfax sending things 1/4 their original size?)…

Suppose I should get back to revision. Revision is very strange. It’s the process of going through everything you’ve done that year, working out what you know, and frantically re-learning things you don’t.

This will be a good test of my diary too… let’s see if it can handle a long entry 🙂