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Archive December 2002
Tuesday 31 December 2002
What is one supposed to do with bottles of skanky oil? Not pour them down the sink, I know. Not throw them out with other stuff. Then what? The only thing I could think of is that they should be saved up and then used as Molotov cocktails. Holly suggested that, since we're in America, we could save them up and serve them as ordinary cocktails. Fantastic. [17:46] [3 comments]

Monday 30 December 2002
We just watched Memento. About time, I suppose, with the plethora of recommendations it's had. Highlight for me; asking Holly, in all seriousness, about an hour and twenty minutes in, "has this been in black and white the whole way through?" I seem to intermittently share in the movie's thematic memory loss. [23:44] [4 comments]

Sunday 29 December 2002
For Lunix afficionados; perhaps you would like to try Openwall Lunix instead of your usual flavour. And then tell me whether or not it sucks. I haven't tried it, and wouldn't without an endorsement. [22:06] [1 comment] The third; mum's been to medieval Iceland, and she admired the legal system there. [22:04] [2 comments] The second; hoorah for American justice. Stories like this seem to be getting more common. Heading towards revolution, or towards a society that must be overthrown from the outside? [21:59] [1 comment] Several short entries. The first; I made picalilli, after realising that it's something that doesn't really need to be purchased. Early taste-tests suggest it's as it should be; it certainly has the proper bile-resemblance. [21:56] [2 comments]

Saturday 28 December 2002
Possibly the best movie in the world, ever; the Robin Williams movie The Best Of Times (which I've never seen properly), combined with the audio from the English dub of Jackie Chan's Drunken Master. This discovery was an accidental one, due to me dubbing the audio from my English VHS tape onto a downloaded copy of the video. The VHS tape's visuals are sufficiently distorted that I needed a digital copy, and the digital copy I got was the terrible American dub, that I couldn't bear to watch more than 45 minutes of.

Anyway, the point is, playing Drunken Master sound with the visuals of a non-action movie is fantastic. Even commercials. "AOL 8.0 now with parental controls (whack! Aiee!)" [19:59] [2 comments]

Thursday 26 December 2002
People mentioning their Amazon wish lists drew my attention to the fact that Amazon wish lists are no use to me - I almost never want anything that Amazon sells. I am, however, not an easy person to buy presents for. Several other people have said similar things. The logical conclusion was that I should write a script that would do wishlists for non-Amazon products.

Having thought of it, and procrastinating as I was, I went looking to see if someone else had already done it. Lo, wishlist.com is just that, albeit somewhat clumsier than I would have had it. Hm, after adding a couple of things to it, I'm tempted to write one anyway - five clicks to add a thing even immediately after having just added a thing is very annoying. But then, since there are so few reasonable things I want anyway, it's probably not worth the effort. [15:33] [2 comments]

Wednesday 25 December 2002
Mr Insulty says... Christmas is nothing but a rotund sniper!

Hoorah for rotund snipers that result in my computer getting upgraded. [20:13] [0 comments]

Tuesday 24 December 2002
Holly and I were John Malkovich last night, which was all good and entertaining. Thanks to those people who recommended it sufficiently that it caught my eye-shaped camera and memory, which I think includes Levez, and probably someone else. Excellent puppetry in it; is it really puppeted, or is it a naughty special-effects forgery? It inspires me towards making a short movie featuring people dressed as (and moving like) puppets, or, even better, people dressed as CGI and moving like it. It's the sort of gimmick that makes a short movie popular, even if it's about people having a conversation over a cup of tea. [13:57] [2 comments]

Sunday 22 December 2002
Mr Insulty says... Bush is no better than a very silly gibbon!
Mr Insulty says... RavenBlack does nothing but reflect death-rays with magpies with a forged houseboat!
Mr Insulty says... Damask smells like two-bob bits, but she looks like monks!
Who are you?
[15:44] [5 comments]

Thursday 19 December 2002
Also making the cinema-visit extra enjoyable was, while we were waiting, one of the lady's friends pseudo-surreptitiously taking photographs. (Flash; hide camera; look guilty/self-satisfied.)

I don't like having my picture taken generally. I like it less when the photographer is someone I dislike. I like it even less when it's deliberately done unexpectedly and hidden.

I grumbled to the lady, and she asked the person to delete the pictures and stop doing it. She returned to tell me she had done so. He took a picture of her telling me this, while wearing a bonus extra-smug expression.

I was angry at this. Five seconds later, another photograph being taken (not of me this time, but with my Holly in shot, who also doesn't like being photographed). Nor had he made any gestures towards deleting the original two offending pictures from the (digital) camera.

So I snapped. I crossed the queue-zigzagging barrier, to express my anger (in the form of shouts and obscenities), and to take the camera from him and delete the pictures myself. The lady stopped me before I took the camera, because she thought my intent was not that, but a punching.

While that wouldn't have gone amiss, I'm really not a violent person. I'm usually not even aggressive enough to act as I did - I'd more often just be annoyed with myself, later, for not having done so. Thank heavens for noisy stinky crowds putting me on edge. [12:33] [2 comments]
I have a new scale for how much I hate any given movie; it is measured in number of jokes made at the movie's expense, to the person sitting next to me, during the movie. The Two Towers scored an impressive 40-50 sarcastic remarks, jokes, scoffings and exchanged glances of despair. I almost wish we'd seen The Hot Chick instead. It would at least have been shorter. And Rob Schneider must be at least as funny as a dwarf. Surely. [02:18] [2 comments]
This is a long one; I title it "why Lord of the Rings part 2 is really awful". I don't think it contains spoilers. Even if it did, I don't think you could actually spoil such a movie.

I should start by mentioning that I began from a somewhat biased position of unexpectedly having to wait an hour and a half, in a noisy tight-packed crowd of smelly annoying people, with all the waves of stifling body heat and rebreathed air which that implies. I had hence decided I would probably hate the movie before it even started.

That said, the movie certainly didn't go out of its way to disappoint me in that respect. It had all the lengthy musical shots of 'epic' scenery that the first had, and more. It had clichés piled atop clichés. The dwarf had apparently been turned into comic relief, though the humour was rather on the level of "hee hee, look, he's short, and he has a funny voice". That didn't stop the audience from laughing at every single shot in which he appeared. Even ones in which nothing was said.

Why do American audiences applaud at movies? Is there a secret hidden "applause" sign to which I am not privy? Do they think the actors/writers/director will somehow be able to pick up on their approval if they bang their meaty paws together enough? It makes no sense. I fully intend to never go to the cinema again. If you ever see me blogging (or saying to you in some other way) "I'm going to see (movie X) tonight", please comment swiftly and say "don't do it, you'll hate it - remember Lord of the Rings".

Don't think I hated it because of the wait or the audience, though. I hated it because it was really really boring. It must have been less than two thirds of the way through that I was hoping for each fade to be the fade to end-credits. Less than half way through that I was wishing I had been the driver, so I could leave, or that I was watching it at home so I could turn it off and do something else. I was tempted, even, to leave the screen-room and go and sleep in the corridor until it was over.

I suspect the movie was true to the book, but I'm not sure - did the book really make so little sense? Defending a castle without using boiling oil or any sort of fire, or any sort of dropping-things at all? Holding your fire from the battlements when you know your arrows can reach the enemy? Building a tower beneath a dam, at the very bottom of a drained pond that was deeper than the tower is high? Attacking a castle that's situated at the base of a cliff by exploding its lower wall, rather than by exploding the cliff onto the top of it? Defending a castle by going outside to fight the enemy? Sending a crapload of your troops to attack a castle that's in a dead-end at all, rather than sending them to attack non-fortified positions around the rest of the world?

The one redeeming feature of the movie came at the end. I mean really, at the end. With the walking out, and going home. The feeling of relief. At last, one of the fades really was to the end-credits. And about fucking time.

"What can we do against evil this strong?" "I know, let's stand around and have a conversation. Ooh, and we could blow a horn!" Feh.
[02:11] [6 comments]

Tuesday 17 December 2002
A horrific Statement of Principles from various political names, via Rialian, and a tidy rant from Ben Stein, via someone whose real name I'm not sure whether to use, and whose livejournal name I'm reluctant to use. [00:37] [3 comments] The Vampires game is now starting to become a proper game, rather than the simplistic thing it was before. Coo, eh? Still a way to go before it becomes interesting. [00:15] [3 comments]

Monday 16 December 2002
Horrible Java regular expressions game for the geek readers, via Kevan; the first time I've encountered the (?...) constructions. [14:30] [0 comments] I used to live with that Santa. Megaphones are the best. [13:13] [1 comment]

Saturday 14 December 2002
Vanish Drop-ins declare near their instructions on the back of the box, "Bowl water not harmful to children or pets. However, it is not recommended that pets regularly drink water from the toilet." Don't comment on this if you don't understand why I've posted it. Just rest assured that it's funny and you haven't understood. [12:29] [13 comments]

Friday 13 December 2002
Whorfic resonance - the effect of making silly language available, upon the writings of the user. Livejournal, with its "current mood" and "current music", for example, seems to encourage one to post about things as irrelevant as one's current mood. Things that nobody will want to read about. Of course, I am immune to the effect, since I don't actually use the livejournal, I just have my blog entries clone across to it.

Current mood: Inflated sense of self-importance. [13:56] [3 comments]

Thursday 12 December 2002
Hoorah, a USB virtual reality glove. Now all that's needed is one that doesn't suck. And a use for such a relatively pointless device. Ideally a use that doesn't require a few hundred dollars for accompanying VR eyes. [09:20] [0 comments]

Wednesday 11 December 2002
Warning! Horrendous geekery! ... Multiple-socket systems (eg. any sort of server) suck, on every operating system except BSD. The only universally compatible method is using "select" which is horrible, whether blocking or polling. Linux also allows "poll", which is incompatible with many other systems, and sucks nearly as badly as a polling select anyway. Then there's the aio functions, which are akin to Windows Overlapped IO, in that they require that preallocated buffers be sacrificed to them, and then they report back in a fucking awkward manner. Windows also has its WSAAsyncSelect method, with reporting to either a window or an event; the former is lovely, it queues up messages in the order of occurence nicely, but it can't be used in a proper server because services aren't supposed to use any windows. The latter method, reporting to events, sucks. What's BSD's method that doesn't suck? kqueue and kevent - the same as Windows' AsyncSelect using a window, except without requiring the existence of a window. Is that so hard? Is it? But if I want that sort of ridiculously simple and sensible behaviour for many operating systems, I have to write a bloody big library to emulate the effect. And emulate it shittily, since it will have all the non-scalability of whatever method I use behind the scenes. [15:35] [4 comments]
More words should have adjectival forms - particularly occupations. If you say "I am a programmer" or "I am a manager", it sounds as though you are defining yourself. The act of being something gives the impression of exclusivity. You can't be a programmer and an artist. You can't be two nouns at the same time. You can, of course, be two or more adjectives; I am an artistic programmatical humaniform... er... something. Okay, so some nouns might be useful too. [12:09] [3 comments]

Friday 6 December 2002
A new RavenBlack quiz:
I'm the limerick, mired in muck.
I refuse to be bored or get stuck.
   I like to offend,
   But not, in the end,
As much as to thwart expectations.
What Poetry Form Are You?
[18:35] [12 comments]

Wednesday 4 December 2002
And a bit more GNUish complaint, though this is more of a Unix thing really - whose stupid idea was it to produce the following combination?
1. By default, a failing send or a failing recv - a failure generally brought about by the other machine involved in the connection disconnecting - causes a SIGPIPE signal to be sent.
2. The default action upon receiving a SIGPIPE signal - an event which can occur at any point in your program - is for the process to exit suddenly without any explanation whatsoever.
Thanks go to the people who did so, for wasting a shitload of my time. Bastards. [00:51] [4 comments]

Tuesday 3 December 2002
GNU. Grargh. Today's GNU software of ire; gdb. It's all very nice and reasonably designed for a command-line interface, but when it causes pthread_join and pthread_detach, which "guarantee that the memory resources consumed by the thread will be freed immediately when the thread terminates" to not have the memory resources consumed by the thread be freed at all until the debugger exits, it is irksome. I spent five hours trying to find a way for the zombie process to be removed, before stumbling upon a Google reference which was someone griping about gdb causing this problem. Running it without gdb, the program was working fine. Tsk. Perhaps this blog entry will help someone similarly in future. [12:05] [0 comments]