Archive for May, 2007

Never ever I have ever felt so low

Thursday, May 31st, 2007 | Life

It worried me how much my life resembles Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Ok so I went to place the order for my new computer with CCL last night. However it still had my invoice address set as Bodington Hall and you can’t change it online. So this morning I rang customer services. They updated it to my home address for me but because my card is registered to my university address they told me that I would have to phone sales up and order it manually.

So I phoned sales up and went through all the components over the phone. They told me they were having credit card problems and passed me through to accounts (as expected) who went through a few details with me and told me that my credit card was being declined and I had to phone Egg up.

I phoned Egg up who told me the reason it had been declined was the order was more than my available balance. Indeed the amount of the purchase was more than it was showing on my shopping cart.

Now I had a problem. I didn’t have enough money on my Egg card to make the purchase. I didn’t have enough money left in my bank account because I had moved it all over to my Egg card to pay for the computer though. It’s my sound system all over again. At least I didn’t think I had enough money in the account, I couldn’t check my bank account because my laptop is dead. At least it would allow me to take a photo of the error – or it would if my camera would let me take any photos but it won’t.

I phone CCL back and explain the problem and they eventually realise that it is because the over the phone orders use trade counter prices rather than internet prices and I have to order via the internet to get the discount price.

I eventually make it on to my bank account to find I have some money spare which allows me to make the purchase on my Lloyds TSB credit card but will need to move some more funds into my bank account as soon as possible to make sure it covers it. Also I was trying not to use my Llyods TSB card as I’m not sure the direct debit is setup yet and it means I will probably have too much money on my Egg card as they will probably take a direct debit payment anyway and there is no easy slash free way to transfer money back to my bank account from my Egg card.

After them declining my Llyods TSB credit card once they finally accept it and I reach the confirm your order screen which informs me that my invoice address hasn’t changed and still says Bodington Hall. I’m back on the phone with CCL customer services.

After 10 minutes on hold I decide to put my phone on speaker phone disrupting my speaker system so I have to turn it off. 19 minutes on hold and someone finally answers. They explain that whoever updated my billing address when I called before actually messed it up so it didn’t update properly. He sorts it for me and tells me to give it 5 minutes for it to update and then go through the checkout again.

So I give it 5 minutes and head to the checkout system again. At which point I come accross a server error preventing me from going any further. On the upside it’s now displayed on the rogues gallery on Server Problems Maybe?.

Giving it 10 minutes to fix itself, I’m still getting. I take a closer look at the error and it seems to be a database fault. My suspicion is that when they cancelled my phone order they either also cancelled my basket order online or just wiped all the pending orders on my account or something. I log in using Internet Explorer, choose a new product in my empty basket and try to go through the checkout – it works.

So I go back to Firefox, open up all the product pages, empty my basket and begin adding everything again. I then refresh my basket. It’s empty again. I work out it’s because it has logged me out so I logged back in and it all re-appears. Finally it lets me go to the checkout. You have to appreciate that each step is taking quite a while because CCL is going strangly slow in recent times.

I finally click confirm, it should finally be all done!

It’s not. I get some ClickSafe registration from Llyods TSB. It’s non-optional. I go through this and open up my email client because it told me it needed email activation. No email came. However, I did get an order confirmation email from CCL so hopefully it’s finally gone through! And all it took me was 2 hours on the phone to people.

The meaning of life

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007 | Thoughts

Having had a few interesting conversations over the past week I felt it important that I note down my recent thoughts on the subjects we had discussed. I then promptly forgot what I wanted to say. This post then forms the jigsaw pieces that I can still remember from the original post I had envisaged.

The debates, at least the ones I want to discuss revolved around the idea of the scope of science. This is something that has also just crept up in the book I am currently reading, The Dawkins Delusion. While the debate on the meaning of life itself is not the same debate as whether science has a scope or not but is often hauled up as an example of a question that is best left to philosophy because it is outside of the scope of science.

This proposal relies on how you define the meaning of life however. Do you take the scientific meaning of life (why we exist from a Darwinian perspective) or do we look for something, and I use the term loosely, deeper, something that cannot be found in science but requires us to look somewhere else, for example philosophy.

If you take the former approach then the question is fairly simple to answer. Life seems to be created to reproduce and continue it’s own existence, this is certainly true on a genetic level. The purpose of life is to create more life. Of course it would be, otherwise life would not be so successful and would eventually die off.

If you take the latter approach to the question then perhaps it would be out the scope of science. How can what most people would describe as the cold touch of empiricism and rationalism provide an answer to such question as what is the purpose of my life? Therefore if this is true, a case can easily be made to suggest such questions are indeed outside of the scope of science.

However, this position has a problem. Because of course, there is no meaning of life. Such questions cannot stand up to attacks from common sense because there clearly isn’t a universal meaning of life. We’re not going to get to the end of the game and find out that we achieved or failed to achieve the stated goals (unless you expect your death to consist of you waking up in some kind of Back to Reality senario to find you only scored 4%).

After all, how could such a universal constant be applied? Any such meaning of life must be subjective, even if on a society level it would still be human created. After all, if not it would have to be applied to all living things. How is a plant supposed to achieve it’s full potential? How are dophins with their conscious minds but lack of schools of philosophy supposed to work out what it is?

If it is subjective then obviously it has to real meaning because we can change it as we see fit and has only the significance we grant it (and may choose to grant it none).

There is of course one exception to the rule here, and that concerns theology. If indeed a religion is right (or even the idea of theism is right even if all major religions are wrong in their own special way) and there is a God who created human beings for a purpose then there could well be an objective, universal, meaning of life.

Such an idea however is purely a theological question and not a philosophical one. Therefore it would seem unjust to have such a connection develop between philosophy and the meaning of life. It would also seem a waste. Surely the time of philosophers could be used to develop our knowledge about, and I again use the term slightly loosely, real things. Then again, perhaps they do, and like most of society I have simply been impressioned with a pattern of philosophy trying to answer the meaning of life when in fact no philosopher is actually concerning themself with such a question. I suspect however that this is not the case.

I also suspect that this is the area that has made me feel a gap between philsophy and the real world. I have always felt the two are somewhat detached and this is a senario that demonstraits why fairly well. Presuming that the theologians are wrong, there is no meaning of life, it has no connection to the real world, no practical applications and ultimately no meaning.

But of course this is not true of philosophy of as a whole. It has great value in the subjects of how we reason and the trust we place in our methodologies (though I would be reluctant to add metaphysics to this list as most questions arising in this subject seem to be, like the meaning of life, either a question that is actually under the domain of a different subject or simply a non-existent topic).

To summarise what I think I’ve said in this post, the question of the meaning of life is either a question for theology or a question for science. Presuming the latter is true, it’s importance is greately over-valued in that the answer only serves to aid our understanding of biology slightly better.


Friday, May 25th, 2007 | Life

It’s been a long week. I had IS23 on Tuesday morning which went quite well, followed by GI21 yesterday which I probably failed (ha, probably, I almost certainly failed the exam which is worth 60% of the module so I’m screwed) then I had SE24 today which was a breeze. I found it slightly harder than expected but I think most people found it harder than expected (probably more so than I did) which is probably a positive sign. Just one more exam to go now!

The tale of Madeline McCann

Friday, May 25th, 2007 | Religion & Politics

I’m not sure how much the rest of the world is aware of what is going on but here in the UK (though the event didn’t actually take place in the UK but rather on the continent) a little girl named Madeline Mccann was abducted. They think. She has gone missing, presumed abducted after she was left alone her her two twin two year old siblings in a holiday apartment[1].

While this is, of course, a tragic event, it’s not uncommon. It happens around 3 times per week in the UK[2]. This specific case, however, has been taken up by the media and blown out of any kind of proportion. So far it hasn’t helped to find her.

It’s been interesting to watch the developments on Facebook. First, the “Find Madeline” groups appeared. Then the “if this group reaches 10.000 then I will release Madeleine McCann!!” group appeared. Now the “get Durka Pedro banned from Facebook!!!!” (the creator of the former group) has appeared.

While the motives for the joke group are unclear it makes a good point. All this media attention which has been a fantastic earner for the media has yet to turn up any results with regards to finding her. Second, the latter group, with debates about the former raises some interesting points.

The Find Madeline contain such topics as “What would you do if you got your hands on the person who kidnapped her?” These are people who don’t know her posting in this. What kind of person posts such comments as “rip out their windpipe and beat them to death with their tonsils”? Presumably, the same type of person that would abduct a small child. I know it’s a crazy idea but when we catch a child abductor, maybe we could, just possibly, make them stand trial and be brought to justice.

Events such as thing provide two things. First, they provide an opportunity for the media to make lots and lots of money off the story. Second, the provide an excuse for people to act like animals and ruining people’s lives with hysteria-driven witch trials. We should be ashamed of ourselves. Especially the supposed educated elite of the Facebook networks.

phpBB RC1 arrives

Monday, May 21st, 2007 | Tech

It’s been a long wait. A very long wait. But the wait is finally over as long as I don’t mind skipping this whole revision thing ;). Kieran alerted me to the release of phpBB RC1 which is a major step forward in the road to a stable phpBB 3 as they will now provide upgrade paths and support.

I’m looking forward to having a play around with it as I haven’t pulled a copy down since the very early days when was fairly hard to gauge just how much of it had been improved because most of it didn’t really work yet. The feature list seems fairly promising though. I guess this means I’m going to have to launch some new forums which means I’ll have to buy some more domains. It’s a hard life :D.

Missing Wendy

Sunday, May 20th, 2007 | Life

I normally avoid swearing on my blog as I like to maintain an open audience policy but I think this is probably worth it. It’s a voicemail I found when I came out of work last night.

Come to Wendy, I can’t believe you’re at work! You, Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you! You suck! Come to Wendy now! Now! Now! You have no choice mu ha ha ha. I’m not drunk at (…). I’m drunk. I’m clearly very drunk. I love you really. I was going to say I hate you but I don’t, I love you to bits. Come to Wendy. Bye.

Last night I missed Wendy House for the first time ever :(. Well, since I started going. But since I first went in January of 2006 I had, had a perfect addendance record. 16 Wendy House’s in a row. More than anyone else in the circle by a long way. Not that the latter statistic doesn’t still hold as it does but my perfect attendence record is ruined.

It’s probably a good thing, I was getting slightly anal about it which probably wasn’t healthy. I couldn’t win either way really as it was ruin my Wendy attendance record or ruin my work attendance record, both which were perfect until last night. In the end though my responsabilities got the better of me.

As depressing as it is that I missed it, it’s even more depressing how little I care. The recent despondence has given me a lot of time to think and that’s never good. Ever.

The ultimate sound system

Friday, May 18th, 2007 | Tech

As I’ve mention before, I’ve pretty much been unable to think about anything other than sound systems for the past few weeks. As such I’ve spent time re-searching them lots and trying to work out what I want if I suddenly find myself with like £3,000 and have to spend it on a sound system for some reason rather than using the money productively.

I say ultimate, it could be even more powerful and I’m sure nightclubs have more powerful systems. However I’m fairly sure that this is more powerful than some bars and indeed even clubs in Leeds have. Not bad for a bedroom system :D. Before I talk about my current design problems, I’ll let you have a look.

Sound system mark I

First off, the monitor is crap. It’s a floor monitor, a good one but for a DJ booth it’s probably not the best choice. Also, if the monitor is being used for a band, there is only one monitor for everyone rather than one monitor each.

Secondly, this presumes that if you connect two speakers to one amplifier channel, while it reduces the impedance and so increases the power, the power will be split between the speakers. If this is not the case the speakers could be overloaded. It is also the case with the sub-woofers that the amp is actually under powered.

Thirdly, the crossover which is before the sub-woofer amplifiers maybe unnessecarry given the other parts of the audio signal in the crossover are not being used. I don’t know if putting it in will actually have a negative effect as it means the sub-woofers will only be getting fed bass though most of them can do a larger range than that. If taken out the sub-woofers could be done in stereo rather than mono as they currently are.

Other concerns and general notes are there is no digital effects processor. I looked into putting one in but there didn’t really seem much point. Maybe there is, I’m open to the idea. Also there are no microphone pre-amplifiers which isn’t really needed given the mixing deck has mic pre-amps but it might boost quality a little. The equipment on the whole is a bit crap. A better DJ deck with XRL outputs would be good. There is no CD players and while the laptops can play CDs, DJs may prefer seperate CD players.

Finally, in terms of expansion, you could daisy chain several speaker stacks. If you got two distribution amplifiers and sent all the left channels to one and all the right channels to another you could have two identical speaker stacks acting in stereo with each other which would also take the power from 4.2kW to 8.4kW plus whatever the booth monitors output.


Friday, May 18th, 2007 | Life


Two down, four to go. SY23 went really well on Tuesday until we got to The Old Bar afterwards and I realised I had missed a question. 8 marks. Out of 60. That’s over 10% of the paper! I had left it to go back to it later and somehow missed it when I went through everything again.

Then this morning (yesterday morning by now) I had SY22 which went fairly well given everyone else seemed to think it was a bit of a strange paper so I’m not too worried about dropping a few marks here and there. That exam was one of the hard ones along with GI so it’s good to have it out of the way.

The dangers of thinking

Thursday, May 17th, 2007 | Thoughts

8 days since I blogged last. That has to be some kind of record. I had a post lined up last Friday but after clearing my head with a walk through town I lost the motivation to finish it.

For weeks now, all I’ve been able to think about is sound systems. It sounds like a joke but it’s driving me insane. I can’t think about anything else. As far as I can make out it’s just my subconscience trying to avoid the subject of revision and Rich assures me that such obsessions are quite normal, explaining how they painted their entire house to avoid revision.

Yesterday I managed to briefly take my mind of it by updating the spec for my server. They seemed to have stopped doing the case I was going to get and the new one is missing a drive bay (it only has 11!) so I had to pick a better one. It also occured to me I was missing a heatsink which wouldn’t have been the best situation. Today I actually managed to get my ass out of bed with a promise of a breakfast and got some revision done. Attempts to sustain such work seem to be once again failing though.

Spending a string of continuous nights in front of my computer screen has unfortunatly acted as some what of a eye opener though. I’ve realised that I am exactly where I was 5 years ago. Sat in the dark, in front of a computer screen, promising myself I wouldn’t still be here in 5 years.

In space, nobody can hear you scream

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007 | Distractions

Ain’t no sound in space. You know why? Because sound can’t travel through a vacuum!

So why is it I can hear Voyager travel past the camera in the opening credits!

Is it really that much of a mission to be scientifically accurate? Firefly managed it. I mean sure, that was a show so universally hated that the network went to the extreme of actually cancelling it mid-production but still.