Final Exam, And What I Will Be Answering

[this post was damaged during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004, and it has not been possible to recover it]

[this post was partially recovered on 12 October 2018]

My final exam is in nine and a bit hours time. It’s on “Implementing The Information Society”, the ‘fluffiest’ module in the entire Computer Science department. It could almost, almost be an Arts module.

It’s title is a bit of a misnomer. There’s absolutely no ‘implementing’ involved, and it’s only got tenous links to the Information Society as a whole. But it is a very interesting module with funky ‘what-if’ seminars and discussions about everything from national identity card schemes to security on wireless broadband connections.

Which, as it happens, are the two topics of the two-of-three questions I’ll be answering tomorrow. Unusually, this module’s exam paper is available on the web three days prior to the exam. Which makes the whole experience slightly less stressful, particularly as it’s an ‘unusual’ paper for us CompSci’s in general: we are so used to being assessed on things which have only a moderate degree of flexibility in their answers – a true Science paper – that when we’re given this kind of essay-esque arty exam we panic. Well; actually that’s not true – U.W.A.’s CompSci department are very good at making sure that our geeks are…

How Would Sian Feel About This?

Here’s a conundrum. Based on prior conversations, I’ve concluded that Sian is against the idea of genetic modification of plants etc. I’ve never really agreed with her on this – although I can see her reasons.

As a member of Amnesty International, it’s safe to assume, then, that she’s also not in favour of landmines. I’d certainly agree with her here: landmines are particularly nasty devices, and as we all know, hang around to kill people for decades after wars are over.

So how would she feel about a genetically modified flower which changes colour if it’s roots come near landmines [Yahoo! News]? These things, which are sterile to prevent cross-contamination, could be planted using seed-sprays from the rear of low-flying planes over areas known to have minefields, and those near mines would be a different colour, warning locals and making diffusion easier for UN soldiers. Of course, they wouldn’t be foolproof – nothing is – but how many lives could this GM tool save?

So; Sian – place a comment if you like: where do you stand on these flowers? (other than ‘away from the red ones’) And of course, anybody else is also welcome to have a say…


Busy Days

[this post was damaged during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004, and it has not been possible to recover it]

[this post was partially recovered on 12 October 2018]

Yay! I won an eBay auction for a copy of Everyway. For £4! Yay! Winner! Now all I need are some friends, some paper, some pencils, and no dice.

In other good news, I solved a really nasty Project: Jukebox bug.

And finally: I’ve been spending way too long (when I should be revising) in Second Life. I’m currently working on trying to build the game world’s first Bluetooth-like short-range radio system, but while building prototypes I seem to have come up with a great espionage/surviellance device (i.e. a bug). It works really well. I’ve spent the afternoon listening in on people’s conversations. I intend to sell my bugging device for L$100 ($L = Linden Dollars, the currency of this virtual world), and then, when I’ve cornered the market, start selling a de-bugging device that can detect bug usage for L$500. I am one of those people, I have decided, whom; if I ran an anti-virus company, I would write viruses to ensure that people still needed my products.

I have one exam left. The …

Alone, And With…

People who are in on the Secret Of The Jukebox will be delighted to hear that I’ve had a good long hack at it tonight (hence it being 4:30am) and I’ve managed to get heaps done and ready for Paul to break test, including but not limited to the new “Alone, And With…” engine, which doesn’t seem to suffer any longer from the age-old bug that gives it it’s name.

I’ve just finished listening to some old hard-to-get Goo Goo Dolls albums that I acquired a little while ago. One is silly over-punky shouty hard rock stuff; very coarse and unrefined, much unlike their later stuff. The other, ‘Hold Me Up’, is much recommendable: some tracks I’d heard before, some stuff I hadn’t heard, all very very good. In particular, enjoyed ‘Laughing’, ‘Kevin’s Song’, and the older version of ‘Two Days In February’. Toy.

And You Thought Adam Was Difficult When He Was Drunk…

Do you remember a few weeks ago, when Strokey Adam came around drunk? Well, it turns out it could have been a lot worse – see this news report about what drunken elephants can get up to [BBC].

My Internet: Architecture And Operation exam went well this morning. I could waffle on about Aggregatable Global Unicast Addresses in IPv6 for hours. But then I ran out of time.

Troma Night tonight – yay. The flat’s a tip. Must do some tidying this afternoon. All help welcome.

For Sale: Wireless Network Cable

This auction on eBay Germany (you can use Babel Fish to translate it if you like) seems to be trying to sell a Wireless Network Cable.

(and, for the benefit of Adam, who won’t ‘get’ it: a wireless network, being wireless, doesn’t have cables – this is geek humour that even you can understand)

Speed Camera Clocks Motorist At 406mph

As this article [The Sun] shows, a man was caught speeding in Cheshire this week at 406mph.

Quite impressive, I thought, as he was driving a Peugeot 406, who’s maximum speed is listed as being 129mph.

I suppose it stands to reason that we Brits, the nation who currently hold the land speed record of 766mph [CNN], would be the first people to have a speed safety camera pick one of us up at over half the speed of sound. And such a clear picture, too…

Despite the obvious mistake, a spokesperson for Cheshire Safety Camera Partnership has stated that they will still be taking legal action.

Post-Modernist Geography

Adam will no doubt correct me on this, but I didn’t think there could be such a thing as ‘Post-Modernist Geography’ until I saw this young lady’s page on it. Read the page.

It doesn’t really help Adam’s argument that Geography is a subject worthy of mention, does it? It makes it all fluffy and arty. Hmph.

Thanks to those of you who have been forcing hugs upon Claire for the last 24 hours. She seems a lot happier now. Having finished her first two exams seems to have helped, too. =o)

New Troma Night Website Up-And-Running

The new Troma Night website is now up and running. All existing Stars are requested to go and register for the new site to retain their Star status. And give suggestions for Saturday’s films while you’re there, using the new “What Shall We Watch?” feature.

And see you all Saturday!

What happens at ‘Troma Night’?

The following post originally appeared on the then-newly-revamped Troma Night website. This archive copy is copied back here for posterity:

This document was originally published on the first Troma Night web site. Changes made during this re-posting are shown in italics.

What happens at ‘Troma Night’?

The weekly ‘Troma Night’ is organised, rougly, by the following stages:


The first stage of any week’s ‘Troma Night’ is the build-up of hype amongst the stars. It usually starts three or four days in advance, and is characterised by people suggesting films and generally getting excited about what they are soon to experience.

Claire getting excited about the prospect of watching 'Caution: Children at Play'
Claire getting excited about the prospect of watching ‘Caution: Children at Play’


Dan & Claire’s flat almost always looks like a bomb has hit it. As a result, one of the first things that needs to happen is a good tidying session. Kit’s always good for this, as he’s pretty much treated as slave labour all the time and being allowed to watch DVDs in exchange for his help is the highlight of the week.

Kit tries to start the vacuum cleaner without also starting a fire - Claire and Dan's vacuum cleaner is a little unsafe...
Kit tries to start the vacuum cleaner without also starting a fire – Claire and Dan’s vacuum cleaner is a little unsafe…


Alec undoubtedly arrives later than everybody else, having phoned-in from the off-license to check if anybody wants anything while he’s there. Kit mumbles that he wouldn’t say no to free beer. Sometimes, other people place requests. Once everybody arrives and the drinking and conversation have begun, the party is underway. Adam brings another six pack of Fosters and drinks four cans of it, thereby slowly adding to the stacks of the stuff in Dan & Claire’s fridge, which nobody but him drinks. Either everybody brings Pringles, and we’re all stuffed before the pizza arrives, or nobody does, and we complain at their absence.

Pringles and beer
Pringles and beer


We usually get as far as the first DVD menu before somebody suggests that we order pizzas. Unfortunately this means that we have to listen to the theme music from some Troma film (which, almost without exception, is tacky) on a loop until we’ve all agreed what pizzas we’re getting and ordered them. This track then remains embedded within our brains for all time, clogging them and preventing more valuable information from entering, in a similar manner to carbon monoxide in red blood cells

Stacks of pizza boxes after Troma Night VIII
Stacks of pizza boxes after Troma Night VIII

Eventually the pizzas arrive, and we eat them. This is a good thing. Paul, despite being a vegetarian, eats the pepperoni one.

Mmm... pizza...
Mmm… pizza…



Kit and Dan show their appreciation for good beer and bad films
Kit and Dan show their appreciation for good beer and bad films

With the DVD player(s) hooked up, we begin the screenings. We typically watch two or three movies in a single sitting, back to back, seperated by a 15-minute break for those who wish to go to the toilet or engage in idle chit-chat. A third movie tends to put us at about 1:30am, by which time we’re usually exhausted. And if not… there’s always more alcohol!

Engrossed in the film
Engrossed in the film
Claire getting excited about the prospect of watching 'Caution: Children at Play'× Kit tries to start the vacuum cleaner without also starting a fire - Claire and Dan's vacuum cleaner is a little unsafe...× Pringles and beer× Stacks of pizza boxes after Troma Night VIII× Mmm... pizza...× Kit and Dan show their appreciation for good beer and bad films× Engrossed in the film×

Troma Night Website

I’m working (at long last) on updating the Troma Night website. Going OK so far, about a third of the way there. Am contemplating pulling a long, late night and seeing how much of it I can get done at once. Ideally I’ll have it all sorted for next Troma Night, on Saturday – including the new webcam feature! We’ll see…

In other news, Claire’s looking a lot happier now that she’s put the revision to bed for the night.