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Probably the sort of person who hasn't just glued all his fingers together
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30th-Apr-2009 12:34 am - Om nom nom...
Oh dear. My pet vacuum cleaner managed to find a cotton reel:

16th-Apr-2009 07:08 pm - I know what I mean
noun the act of bifurcating a second time, occurring some time after the bifurcated parts had been carefully joined together.

I used this in an email at work today, because I wanted to avoid the rebifurcation of some source code that had been branched off the trunk in our svn repository. I knew it wasn't a real word because of the squiggly red line, but everybody knew what I meant.

It wasn't until later, when someone pointed out that google returns only 22 unique pages for this search term (and 14 of those are in French), that I realized just how neologismy it was.

Oh hang on...

adj. having the properties of a neologism.

[EDIT: typo]
10th-Apr-2009 09:44 pm - Fun Fun Fun
Well -- it was no worse than anything in season seven...
31st-Mar-2009 12:12 am - Another moon of Saturn
Continued from http://shadowphiar.livejournal.com/61524.html...

It's working! It's working!
(well, mostly...)

Installing Leopard was surprisingly little trouble (once I had got the efi-x plugged in properly, which took a couple of attempts. Even with the little extension cable they give you, it's very fiddly to reach that corner of the motherboard, so at first it wasn't quite in far enough and didn't do anything).

The things I expected trouble with (e.g., system sleep, updating graphics drivers etc.) have been no problem at all. Instead, I get Time Machine falling over when selecting a local SATA hard disk as the backup volume, because "the built-in network interface could not be found". (Don't be silly, of course it can - it's working perfectly and I'm posting through it right now!). Allegedly this can be fixed buy buying a PCI network card... (or maybe a future efi-x firmware update) (or maybe it will only work on motherboards with two network connections -- it's a bit difficult to tell when your only official source of information is also filled with random people posting questions and unreliable opinions).

And then there's all the whole business with AHCI (new command protocol for SATA hard disks). One the efi-x forum there's very clear guidance that AHCI should be turned on in the BIOS after installation of the OS. What it doesn't say, is that doing so will prevent DVD burners from being seen! Aha - I think - there are two SATA controllers on this motherboard (southbridge has six channels, and a separate chip has other two) and they can have AHCI turned on and off separately. So I'll put one of them into legacy mode and run the DVD drive off that? No - because the separate SATA chip doesn't work with efi-x.

This must be some strange new usage of the words, "all features of these motherboards are supported", of which I was not previously aware.

It took a good deal of searching and browsing on their forum to discover that last bit of vital information! I've been unimpressed with efi-x's documentation and support in general. Anyway - in benchmarks I've been barely able to tell the difference between AHCI on or off, so I'm leaving it off in order to get the benefit of a functional DVD drive!

In short, it's been a bit of a faff (and that's not over yet). However, it was at least mostly quite interesting faff, and considering that to buy a machine from Apple with as high specifications as this would cost nearly a thousand pounds more than I paid - I consider it a few evenings well spent. While I like Apple hardware, the latest round of Apple desktop upgrades was insipid at best, and prices went up about 40% across the board. Perviously I've been willing to pay a premium for premium-quality kit. But not so much that it makes me feel like a chump for having done so.
I am posting this from a new computer what I have put together myself from components...

I'm quite relieved that it seems to be working, to be honest. As it's the first one I've done, I've paced it quite slowly and it's taken a few evenings to do - I would have finished yesterday, but I discovered one of the power leads from the PSU was about half an inch too short to reach the right place on the motherboard (unless I were to drill a hole through the middle of the graphics card) so that had to wait until after work today when a trip to Maplin supplied me with an extension cable.

Turning it on for the first time was very underwhelming... Nothing went bang, but it didn't exactly work either. It was randomly hanging in the middle of Kubuntu live-CD boot and sometimes even in the BIOS menus, which seemed extremely ominous. Fortunately Kubuntu provides a memcheck utility from the CD boot menu, so I ran that for a while and found a lot of memory errors.

After taking one module out, and testing one at a time in various slots (to rule out problems with the motherboard or cpu itself), I'm reasonably convinced that one of the DIMMs is bad... which is not unheard of, although it's the first time that I've had problems with anything from Crucial. The other one passes memcheck at 100% and seems to be behaving stably enough now. Fortunately I can keep using the computer with (a mere!) 2GB of RAM until a replacement arrives, which is an order of magnitude more convenient than sending back the cpu or the motherboard.

And so there you have it. Kubuntu is installed on one HD, with another ready and waiting for the inevitable fun and games which will ensue with efi-x and Leopard. But that is a job for tomorrow...

Incidentally, I'm a bit unimpressed that the case manufacture has described no less than three things which are to be done using "the special screws provided" - without ever making attempt to distinguish between the seven-or-so distinct types of screw which came in a little plastic bag in the case. Also, minus 5 points to Kubuntu, whose CD boot menu only talks to PS/2 keyboards, so I had to dig one out of the loft before I could drive it...
27th-Feb-2009 10:56 pm - The Mark Experience
Next weekend (on the 7th and 8th of March, at 7:30 and 8:00pm respectively), I will be taking part in the Mark Experience, a 90-minute dramatic presentation of the life of Jesus based on Mark's gospel.

The Mark Experience (link to flyer pdf)

Of course, this means that I'm currently trying to learn it, but that's not quite as daunting as it sounds (the dialogue will be semi-improvised rather than word-for-word scripted, and to help us learn the sequence of events we have an excellent study guide written by Andrew Page from Above Bar in Southampton, who will also be directing). I hope you'll agree this sounds fresh and exciting (and in not a small way, scary - especially since we haven't had any rehearsals yet, although you'll be glad to hear that we are planning to have some before the performances...) and if you can make it it would be great to see you there.

It's at Emmanuel United Reformed Church, opposite Pembroke College, near the Fitz museum. Entry is free - there are no tickets, so you'll need to come early to get a good seat! (Actually, there will be a small block of seats reserved for friends/family of the actors, so if you let me know beforehand I'll try to ensure you're counted in.)
10th-Feb-2009 03:57 pm - Get a look at that Atom.
Intel CFO, on selling to smartphone vendors:

"We would love dearly to win one of the big guys, that really is the smartphone game, it really is a concentrated set of suppliers. We're lurking behind every bush and showing them our product line."

Bwah? That really is a very strange image. I'm not sure I'd be inclined to buy Intel if one of their execs jumped out at me from behind a bush and flung open their coat to show off the ...err... "product line". At best it sounds like they're selling fake Rolex watches, and at worst...
5th-Feb-2009 10:03 am - Perspective
England's worst snow for eighteen years, some say.

But no, surely this must be England's best snow for eighteen years, non?
12th-Jan-2009 12:17 am - Why prog rock?
A few weeks ago, somebody asked me why I enjoy listening to prog rock music. I found it slightly difficult to formulate an answer - how would you express reasons for liking or disliking particular genres of any artistic field? Oddly, it seems most of the aspects I can think of that I most appreciate about prog music, actually tend to be the same things which cause many other people to have an antipathy to it! It is variously described as "difficult", "showy", or "complex" and "time-consuming". Now if you'll allow me four minutes of your time, I'd like to use this song as an example for the discussion to follow:

Toys (on YouTube)

It's by Frost* (who I've mentioned before) and comes from their new album released late last year. It sounds very different from their first release Milliontown, for many reasons - not least that writer/producer Jem Godfrey consciously and deliberately wanted to do something different instead of repeating the style of his earlier record. I think of it less as a second album, than as the debut of a band who have reinvented themselves as a sort-of proggier version of Muse.

Anyway, the track. At first glance it appears too short to be prog - but prog's reputation for twenty minute epics is perhaps a little overstated! Many prog bands have indeed recorded some very long pieces but that is by no means the entire content of their repertoire.

Are the lyrics prog? Well I don't really understand what half of them are about, so that's probably a yes. Incidentally, the video - which is unofficial, made by a fan and publicised on the band's forum - contains a lot of in-jokes and references, some to the previous work of Frost or events on Jem's blog, but also some more directly to the lyrics of the song (which are a lot of fun, albeit embarrassingly literal on occasion... nonetheless I tip my hat to the sublime sequence around 2:10 of car, pet, hides, the gilt E, duster, weigh)

Did you notice the time signature of the song in the video? If you didn't pay attention it might have appeared very simple; in fact it shifts from 4/4 to 7/8, but does so so often and so easily that you hardly notice that it's happening - that is, until you try joining in or (heaven forbid) dancing to it. Some people think the best songs have three chords, and could be sung round a camp fire with an acoustic guitar. Maybe that is "good" on some scale but simplicity isn't something that I'm inspired by. We are complex creatures and I prefer complex music, with lots of unexpected chord changes, time signature changes, and all the rest. Most of my favourite bass lines are the ones that I can't play myself (though through practice they are becoming reduced in number) - I want to listen to musicians that I can aspire to, rather than the stuff hitting the top 40 singles charts which I could have recorded myself. **

So is that, at the end of the day, why I listen to noisy music with weird chords, incomprehensible lyrics with a beat you can hardly follow, let alone dance to? It comes down to a personal preference. I like the weird chords. I like being unable to predict where the music will flow (at least, until I've heard it a couple of times). That's not to say I don't appreciate different styles - certainly for example, the songs that I play in church need to be relatively pedestrian and predictable *** because we expect a musically-untrained congregation of 300 people to join in and sing along; if they can't follow the tune then the song is a failure. Occasionally I feel guilty for not listening to more Christian music, but most of it (whilst not being bad per se) just isn't in the style that I personally most enjoy listening to.

* The asterisk is part of their name, and is not a reference to this footnote...

** NB recorded, not written. I'd love to learn the skill to write, but at the moment I'm yet to come up with an original sequence that still seemed like a good idea after more than eight bars or so. Mind you, I'll bet that's probably true for most of the top 40 "artists" as well.

*** I shall never make a good preacher, since I was unable to find a third appropriate adjective beginning with the same letter.
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