31 March 2006

Reading Drafts

As mentioned in earlier posts, I'm reading a draft of a book. Thus
far it is excellent, and I've just read a bit that made me want to
post this. I'm not exactly sure why. Bear with me...

--

I started reading the draft on my computer and I got to around page 60
before realising that I just wasn't enjoying reading it on the screen.
I felt guilty that this was then stopping me from concentrating on
the story, SO I wrangled a print resource, and now am the proud owner
of a book, unusually formatted yes, but a book nonetheless.

And I am totally glad that I did. Cause there is an aesthetic with a
printed page that you just can't get on screen. I'm really enjoying
just turning each page, it gives you a sense of achievement and
anticipation with every turn. And then sometimes the words on the
page play a wicked trick on you. Like just what happened to me now:

I turned the page, immediately registered the salient narrative points
(NP), and then leisurely read through the paragraphs connecting them.
And it was great cause when I got to the end it gave a me a wicked
sense of deja vu as the last salient point clicked into place. They
were:

<page start>

lead in paragraphs...

NP: I DID

linking paragraphs...

NP: THIS

linking paragraphs...

NP: RESPONSE

</page end>

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, for me and I guess all of us
out there that were trained to read pages, the page is something that
we can and we do understand. I batch process written information:
each page is a batch.

This has made me think that computerised written information
inexpertly delivers itself in batch format. As more and more
information ends up on the web or as electronic documents, I expect
our conditioned response to page-like batch information to change. And
I further think that this is interesting because most of the ebook
readers are still trying to emulate the page, when they could probably
be more forward thinking and design for the time when the page is not
the way people are trained to receive information.

If I had to guess what I think this design concept might be I'd guess
the endless scroll, though I'm uncertain if this is a byproduct of
watching the Matrix once-too-often!

--

It is also interesting cause the page layout described above is the
result of two things:
a) the writer's attempts to lay out the story in a digestible way, and
b) the computer's attempts to logically paginate that story into an
arbitrary size
These two things, over the course of a novel sized document, and
especially in terms of a draft, are in conflict. So it is almost a
fluke that the layout that affected me existed in the first place.

Does anyone else find that kinda creepy?

--

These thoughts have been brought to you in elongated non-paginated
scrolling form courtesy of RTB.

Weird

Had a daydream just before falling asleep last night, in which I was a writer for Lost way back at its conception, and I was fighting the other creative folk for using Charlie's character not to display the evils of addiction with heroin, but with cigarettes!  I mean what self respecting heroin junkie wouldn't smoke as well?

I know that I didn't pay enough attention to the first series so I'm unsure if there hasn't been any mention of this, but I sure can't remember if any of the main characters have ever smoked or wanted to smoke.  And it just seems unusual to me that out of the number of survivors how this issue hasn't cropped up to be a major story line.

Anyway, this of course led to me thinking up all sorts of funny "Man I need a smoke!" scenes and how it could be yet another resource that Sawyer could control and finally about all the inter-survivor rivalry that would occur between those that were able to give up easily vs those eking out the last of the duty free supplies performing tricks for Sawyer along the way!  I think it would have been great.

Anyway, as life continues to imitate art, or at least a major TV series, here is a link to Lost related crime.

--

In other news, my dealings with recruitment agents imitates Sara Lee in a crazy "Layer upon layer, upon layer" farce. One of the jobs I'm applying for goes a little something like this: I'm applying for a position within a company that has outsourced the work to a project management consultancy, and this consultancy needs workers so have advertised through their preferred agency, which in turn put the word out through other agencies.  Thus I was alerted to the position through my agency and now I've been interviewed for my agency for the position, and then their agency and yet I still have two more layers to go before I can even work out who the hell it is that I'll actually be working for!  It is SUCH a dumb system.

In the meanwhile I am continually yours, unemployed...

--

C++ headaches are becoming the norm.  It may also have to do with the amount of caffeine in my system, but I've never been one to blame coffee before so why start now.  I managed to spend nearly two hours troubleshooting a programme just because I was too blind and dumb to see that ONE line was missing.  I'll tell you now that I'll never make THAT mistake again, but am a bit freaked out that I can be stumped for that long on something as trivial as it ended up being.

Ah well, at least my d6 is now rolling pseudo-random numbers in a way that I can 70% fully understand.  I guess that is the problem with me, I'll all like "Yeah OK, this guy here did this to get this to work, but how does it actually work?" and proceed to get bogged down writing a whole lot of extra code to interrogate the solution so that I can try and see what is happening.  It is far from efficient, causes headaches, and generally leads to only a 70% understanding before I have to concentrate on something else or go MAD.

--

Finally, I have myself my very own printed copy of RTB.  It is printed Two-Up and double sided but unfortunately in booklet form, so by all accounts it is an unusual publication.  But it is going to make the reading, and typo identification, run like a fleet footed moose (sans cobbled ankle)!

My second fave typo thus far, pg 105 last paragraph, 'You're a good moth.'

~m I'm only pointing theses out so you don't get a FAT head when I tell you later how much I'm(ve) enjoying(ed) it!

--

Have a good weekend

28 March 2006

London Day # ? (I've stopped counting even before I started!)

Not a lot to tell you. The rejections are still mounting and the
prospects of employment seem a dim and distant horizon still.

Have been reading a bit, having finished half of Invisibles Vol.02,
the Sherlock Holmes collection and The Scar, though sadly not enough
of ~m's 2nd draft. We are getting there though.

Still feel naughty for reading the Invisibles, as Harkonnen was once
purported to be in the throes of planning an RPG based on it, and
evidently the key to the game's success was for PCs NOT knowing
anything about it. Ah well. I'm in London now, he can only punish me
from afar if this is indeed still and issue.

One of the things that has taken up more than just a little of my time
have been my rampant advances into C++. I now have a shitty wee
programme running in the command prompt environment that acts a little
(just a little) like a six sided dice (a D6 if ya will!). And I'm
happy that it does, cause it didn't and it was a HUGE headache trying
to work out why, and now that it is working, I'm plotting and scheming
to take over the world with it.

Be afraid - be very afraid.

Actually, it is cool, cause there are a few good tweaks that I can
make to it to make it work even better, and then I have the option of
trying to port it through to a windows based .exe and finally add
graphic features, all the while improving my knowledge of the language
and tips&ricks that may make me a useful resource for my friend's
project. You never know, I may get there.

I'm also very interested in reviving some to the VB work I did AGES
ago for mono-alphabet substitution ciphers etc. as a more
computationally interesting project to carry along the tweaks and mods
path. It is all UBER geeky, and quite exciting given my UBER geek
status.

In more socially acceptable forms of entertainment, I did catch up
with the most recent Lost episode last night, so below the cut will be
info about it...


**S02 EP16 Spoiler Alert!


All I really want to say is that Ep 16 is great! Not only do we get
conflict & resolution drama in the episode with Sun and Jin's story
arc, but we get a good is-this-a-cliffhanger ending after creepy Henry
Gale regales us (he he!), over corn flakes, with a great wee
supposition story, after he mocks Jack and John and the general lack
of inquisitiveness the survivors have towards the hatch. Made me
really like him, the clever wee undercover other that he is.

I can't help but think that Ana, Sayid and Charlie are very much
stranded up shit-creek without the proverbial. It will be very
interesting to see how this resolves, cause if it goes as badly as I
think(hope) it will, the repercussions that will come of it should be
spectacular.

(Hix - when and if Sayid comes out of this I reckon we will have one
hell of an episode of lets 'villify' the Iraqi torturer!)

It really was a good episode, especially as there were no slo-mos or montages.

I was a very happy Lost viewer after seeing it. You will all be too I reckon!

22 March 2006

the will to live...

...is always improved with a good cup of coffee.  I'm currently stuck on Indo style coffee.  No, not coffee from Indonesia, just their low-tech way of preparing it.  In a nut shell (or should that be a bean casing) you take a generous scoop of coffee, add it to your cup or mug, pour on hot water, stir add sugar/milk to taste and drink.  Yes, you drink a fair amount of grinds with each cup (this can be limited by careful preparation and settling time etc.) but I like the way that it is a completely NO-nonsense way of making a cup of java joe.  It is instant, there is no faffing around with plungers or espresso makers and best of all it gets you wired quick and painlessly.  There is time to sit back after and think - yeah man, life is good!

...is also directly related to your will to learn.  You stop one, the other will stop.  This is my law, and in recent days I've not been the best practitioner.  So new challenge time.  Learn to programme.  Had a rousing chat with a friend and C++ is the 'where for' and 'what to' learn.  Fuck me.  Big challenge.

Wish me luck, cause while I'm willing, I ain't confident...

--

main()
{
work god damn it;
work;
}


--

And in amongst all this I got to get a job, money, read the three books I've got on the go, learn Blackbird on the G-tar (again) and ...

Who said the life of the unemployed wasn't stressful?  But hey, I'm willing to live it!

21 March 2006

Harkonnen

Don't you hate it when you have good friends who don't have nicknames or handles that you can easily use to partially hide identity when talking about them in blog posts?  I do.  This excerpt is from one...

The next morning I was hung over.  Very hung over, at one stage I crawled off to the toilet to take a dump and it took me half an hour because there was no moisture in my body.

I'm calling him (yes only a him could come up with that paragraph) Harkonnen today.  Evidently he played them in the latest installment of the world's most complicated Dune game, that I won, despite being half a world away form at the time of playing. 

You may well ask how I did that but I will NOT reveal my secrets.

snakes on a plane

omg

found through this site which i got through a twisted series of links that is FAR to involved to describe here.  According to imdb it's in post production.  God knows when it it'll actually be here, or why.

"God, when will 'Snakes on a Plane' come out in cinemas?"

<I don't know>

OK, so maybe no one knows...

It makes me wonder why, oh why, 'March or Die!' hasn't arrived yet.

Tsotsi

Good movie.  Very simple story.  Clearly and well told.  Good performances.  Great catchy music.  And all in a foreign language that will have you checking yourself every ten minutes going did I hear and understand that, or did I read and understand that?

Sal commented that the production feel at the beginning of the movie was very stage-production like.  I agree.  It all of course goes tragically wrong after this point in the movie, but it made me think to wonder if there were any rap musicals out there (just watch the movie for why)   Anyone?

Does 8 Mile count?

20 March 2006

Crash

Hmmn.  I watched this on Dvd last night and I just wasn't that taken with it.  Maybe I'm missing something, but it didn't grab me as particularly clever or special.  And oscar worthy?  I just dunno. 
Don't get me wrong though I thoroughly enjoyed it and was entertained by it.  There was just something not-brilliant about it.  Will try and put my finger on it...
In the meanwhile I'm planning to go off to see Tsotsi at Rio tonight (Monday is cheap night in these parts).  I have heard less about how good this movie may be, so I'm hoping for a surprise.
--
I'm prepping homemade hummus at the moment.  The chick peas have recently been deemed tender, the gas then turned off, and now the lidded cooling pot is sucking in air, my own aural display of thermodynamic law. 
Suuusuusuususuussskkk!
Thought I'd share that with you...

Love Bites?

No, not that series, the new Insiders Guide to Love.  Evidently it screened just before Xmas but, not being in NZ at the time, I missed it.  So anyone out there who saw it should comment about what it was like.  How did it compare to Happiness?

17 March 2006

RTB (aka ode to ~m)

No not Ready To Blog, Reasons To Beg or Rub Thine Boobies, just Ron The Body!

*JUST*

(preemptive just exasperation from ~m - but you know as I know that it could never be JUST)

Congrats on Draft2.0.  All that midnight oil and the bastard is DONE!  Knocked door, knocked up, knocked off, well at least ver2.0.

Feel free to send me a copy to read over or visually peruse (I assume there are pictures - all good books have pictures you know) if you want, although I'm kinda hoping to be able to read the 'published' entity.  I have faith that that is what RTB will become.  In my credit I do have copious time on my hands that could be well spent reading your beloved tome.  In my detriment, this copious time will undoubtedly lead to a lack of clear insight into the book.  My brain is rotting and is barely kept within its head by my nasal membranes

*blows nose - looses brain cells*

So whattayagonnawrite NOW!

I want MORE me.  AND little LOUGHNANS.  !And exclamation marks!

And I want gods, mars bars and mortar & pestles.

I want for a mystery and a sleuth, and I long for a discovery.  

I want to read the book as 'my dear watson'.

And I want cool dialogue, and I don't want any montages (after all they are hard to write).

And I want some space, and a recognisable pair of green eyes.

I want the future and the past.

All at the same time.

That is EXACTLY what I want to read.

What do you want to write about?

16 March 2006

too close to home

The drug trial that has gone horribly wrong is just a little too close to home for me.  I work in the industry, I've helped create drugs that will eventually go to tests like this, and I understand the protocols, procedures and extensive testing that goes on behind the scenes trying to determine if that drug is safe.  And I also have an appreciation for the fact that despite this elements about the compound will always be unknown.  And that makes trials and conclusions like this unavoidable.

My support goes out to the trial patients whose futures are now so uncertain.  And of course it goes out the their support networks.  But it also goes out to the smart people who made this stuff in the first place, and who are probably having the worst experience of their professional lives trying to work out what is happening to the patients and how to remedy it in the shortest and most critical of time frames.  

Only eventually I hope that they determine how it came to happen, and when they do I hope for everyone's sake that they are found to have followed all the rules leading up to this trial.  Now isn't the time for finger pointing or blame shifting, now is the time for the industry and those involved to mitigate the effect by helping to save lives.  The first aim must be preventing these patients from becoming a worse statistic, not arse covering.

14 March 2006

lost in other news

I've been watching more lost, eps 7-11 came my way the other day and I'm up to 10 (I think - shush don't tell Sal).  Episode 7 sucked oh so much, for many crappy reasons, but was thankfully pegged back by eps 8 and 9.  Basically if you read this DON'T watch episode 7.  It tells you nothing.  Skip straight to ep 8. 

And that is the problem with this season.  There is good stuff, but too much shite intermingled with it.  I keep wanting to skip.  I'm getting about ready to scream if I have to go through another slow mo montage filler, when Sawyer says something that makes me laugh and think fuck I reckon you are the best character after all (I'm swinging wildly between John and Sawyer and now the new big black guy [shame on me for not remembering his name - Mr. Eko]).  They need more dialogue like it.  In fact they just need more dialogue.  Real people in the Lost situation would talk much more than the majority of the verbally retarded folk that are kicking back there at the moment.

Anyway now that I've downloaded bit meter II my computer is beeping like the one in the hatch as I continue in my search to find the remaining lost episodes...

¡a a+~ ã!

Over the weekend I made this and it is now the official London pet.  You all should go out and get one.  They are great.  They wander around with a semi-intelligent looking determination that makes you want to pick them up and give 'em a hug.  The best thing about it is you don't need to take it outside so that it can crap on the sidewalk.

--

I need to work out how to deal with accented characters better.  I'm currently typing this on my laptop (sans numeric keyboard) in Firefox and to make it type something like Mãori I have to faf around after the SHIFT+M turning the quasi-numeric keyboard on (Fn+F8) type ALT+0227 then turn off the quasi-numeric keyboard by toggling (Fn+F8) and finishing with typing "ori".  It is comical if I don't do precisely this.

The accents are hard to deal with also when searching.  You pretty much have to type the exact string before searching a document for something like Mãori which is a pain because you naturally just want to thrash out a generic search for M(a or ã)ori to capture any reference to that string, but I've no idea even if this is possible or how it might be done.  And that leads me to ask: Is there a better approach to utilising accents with computers out there?  

Interestingly?!? if you search Google for Mãori the top sites returned are http://www.maori.org.nz/ and http://aotearoa.wellington.net.nz/ and as far as I can tell has neither have Mãori visible on the page (although that could be cause one of them doesn't seem to be loading properly).

* In other notes of not-interest, the first time I tried to type visible on the page it came out: v5s5b3e 6n the -age, stupid Fn F8!

--

5fe 5s d433 and b6r5ng, 0a2e 0e a c4- 6f tea!

that is my song of the day and your Fn F8 cipher for the day!

--

Reading Sherlock Holmes short stories at the moment.  Didn't know that the man dabbled in injectable cocaine.  They say you learn something everyday, I learnt that yesterday, so I hope I learn who I'm going to work for today...

10 March 2006

a toast to friends

Having just received and responded to a series of text messages with Stronglight, I happened upon this article, that would have made the whole interaction a lot more 'inter' and 'active'.  Burbon and coke in NZ and Bali coffee here in the UK (not quite at the depressed_with_London, therefore drinking spirits for breakfast [mainly cause I can't afford to]).

In fact with the wedding spree going on at the moment in NZ, the sooner they roll these things out the better.  That way I'll at least be able to participate in the wedding toast from these far off shores!


06 March 2006

The Weekstart

The new week has begun. It was heralded with a lazy start, an Oscar run-down, and a thorough read of all the blogs that I try hard to keep up to date with. There was even a little chatting with ~m thanks to the nifty google chat that invariably glows green when I've woken up, abluted, and breakfasted, to say 'hey morgue is out there too!' He keeps funny hours that boy. Of course my ability to cross with his funny hours are due to the fact that I'm in the northern hemisphere, eleven hours distant, and remain unemployed and bored except for my internet connection...

Read more!

Last week the chance to become a Data Steward fell through. Sad that. I have an affinity for any position that is somehow entitled Steward. The feedback from the process was all good, so I guess I brushed up on enough SQL to get by (thanks Svend) but still no offer followed what I though to be a wholly encouraging process. I was expecting to hear back well before the weekend, and eventually caved mid morning Friday and called them to ask for information. Got stuck at the secretary, left a message, and was called back at, get this, 5.30pm to say good feedback, you are great, but sorry no! "The computer says no!" (1) I'm beginning to think that agents and HR people learn to do this in their training courses, or whatever they do to get their work, cause there seems to be NOTHING wrong with dashing hope and killing opportunity on the verge of the weekend (it has happened more than once... *sigh*).

I much prefer automated, impersonal and instant rejection, like the one (2) that just popped into my inbox a moment ago. It is much more symbolic and satisfying if you are allowed to hit a 'Trash This 'button at the end of a transaction like this!

Anyway, with that BAD start to the weekend, things could only get better, right? Thankfully they did. It started with a walk in the bracing cold listening to Memento Mori, by HDU, at what can only be described as MEGA volume on my wee iPod shuffle. The walk which had started off as a fuck-the-world&just-give-me-a-job aggression release, was cheered up immensely by the lyrics "Come on higher it's easy!" and screaming guitars. It made me think of the Cthulhu game I ran with Chris, Dean, Dale and ~m, as an introduction to a campaign game I wanted to develop based on Peter Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction. Memento Mori was the theme tune, and a fucking appropriate one at that.

Then the music mellowed a little with a trip to the nearest Jazz club to us, to see Gwyneth Herbert sing her lungs out. It was great, I had a couple of beers, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I can't wait for her latest album (that she was trying out for size on our wee crowd) to come out.

Saturday, was lazy and shopping filled. We needed to buy in supplies for the week ahead and the dinner party that Sally had organised. And that dinner and party went extremely well, a solid 6.5 hours of talking and drinking and bloody good food. And not-too-much-of-a-hangover to boot!

Sunday saw an effort to check out Science Museum + Natural History Museum, which were passed through in a very cursory examination kind of way, before heading back to a horrible cinema to check out Walk the Line, which was great fun and great singing but not a great movie. The duets between Phoenix and Witherspoon as Cash & Carter were amazing.

And that is where the weekend, ended, and this Weekstart started. Better get back to the employment...

(1) according to some people there is a passing resemblance between me and David Williams from Little Britain who plays the travel agent (Anne) whose catch phrase is the one quoted. I'd do a wickerman style image comparison but actually I think that the similarity is complete bollocks and worthy of no further entertainment. Of course I quoted LB and then footnoted it with this, so may be there is something to it after all. You can decide for yourselves (those of you who have a mental picture of me) by comparing me, the most handsome and eminently employable man in the world, with this guy!

(2) copy of typical rejection e-mial - my new spam!
Dear Charles

Re: Data Configuration Administrator - Ref. TFL1732

Thank you for your application for the above vacancy.

I am sorry to inform you that your application has not been successful and will not be progressed to the next stage of the selection process.

I appreciate this may be disappointing for you, but hope you will not be deterred from applying for other suitable vacancies in the future.

Thank you for the interest you have shown and for the time you have taken in preparing your application. If you wish to find out about further opportunities please visit our website at www.tfl.gov.uk/careers.

On Behalf of

The Resourcing Team, HR Services
Transport for London
www.tfl.gov.uk


(Please do not respond to this mail address as this is an automatically generated email message from TfL Careers)

03 March 2006

Scarf

Scarf!Well, a while back I posted this about the fact that I was whiling away my time by knitting.

Well, I whiled, and I whiled, and the border to this post is the result. I'm quite proud of it, although its length (at over 6'6") is a bit annoying at times.

Currently I'm whiling more time away, trying not to get depressed about the lack of employment.

I'm not knitting though.

In fact I'm not doing much.

And that means I have nothing to write about.

So I'm left with having to space out meaningless text to go with this picture.

And that is all I have to say about that!

02 March 2006

Therapy?

I used to have a couple of Therapy? singles. In fact I probably still do. But given that they are half a world away and likely in a box I can't remember packing or putting somewhere it is understandably hard for me to imagine that they are still a possession.

Anyway, one of the songs on one of the singles was a thumping track with a heavy guitar riff that lead into a chorus that ends:

"...You can't help my life, but you can hide the knives!"

One knife has been well hidden of late and, contrary to Therapy?'s song, my life wasn't helped by it one bit. In fact, I'm glad he's back!

It troubles me...

... to find out just how easy it is to do STUPID stuff with computers these days.

I found how I needed to do what I did by searching for "img htmlmouseover" on google, which was then auto-corrected to "img html mouseover" and finding this site (5th listed). I liked the no javascript approach, and after a couple of trials it worked.

So see below for another waste of your and my time!

I hope ~m's near naked torso is not deemed offensive!
(it's not to me grr!)

Wicker Men!

According to Multi (vitamin) D this needed to be done.

According to me, I'm just as much in the dark as you!

01 March 2006

BAN, BON, BAR, BIC, BUN, BHC

Went to BANbury last weekend with Sal and a friend of mine.  Hired a rental Mercedes (I only ever travel in style) and drove the 100 or so miles there with the intention and purpose of contributing amateur painting skills to this project.  Had a great weekend, replete with cool old barn, an amazing BONfire, good eats, conversation and a fair few drinks.  All good, despite the bitter cold wind that required all manner of wrapped-up-ness.

The weekend at Banbury also came complete with a tour around BAR Honda's F1 facility!  An amazing place, you can get an overview here, and very satisfying for boys who like toys .  Admittedly very, extremely, grossly expensive toys...

This week has kicked off with snow and an unpleasant coldness in the flat (I'm too cheap to run the radiators during the day).  To warm up I went to see BIC Runga last night in Camden.  Had a great night, and was very surprised to see old Mister Neil Finn, complete with his now trademark grey mop of hair, behind the keyboards for the very talented Miss Runga.  Good diner before hand, great music afterwards, and a beer or two in between. 

Finally, I've just sorted out the necessary do-hicky-watsits to make *cough* an artists rendition *cough* of the first few episodes of Lost, Season the Second, happen for me.  Now that it is working, I'm off to catch up on s2ep1 and in doing so hopefully answer me the question: What the hell is in that BUNker?

You are reading this and I'm a Bloody Happy Chuck!