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December 2006

?/43 (2)

So I can't leave this alone. I'm going to finish off the list I started, don't expect my comments to mean anything.

  • Have better posture - Ah. I remember this one. The things we didn't know back then... Anyway, I can't really make much progress on this my own, got another appointment in February so I'll have to wait and see.
  • Work because I like to, not because I have to - I have a feeling this is one of those that won't go away, 'cause there'll always be things I don't want to do that seem like work. Still, it's a nice thought, and something I don't want to delete.
  • Be - Ha. I'll try doing this once I know what it means.
  • Become less enraged at instances of stupidity - I'm still really bad at this. But when I say "stupidity" I don't think I'm being fair - I guess "misunderstanding" is more what I mean. When I can't communicate to somebody else what I'm trying to say, or vice versa, it's annoying.
  • Learn Perl - Click. Gone.
  • Type with 10 fingers - I don't currently have 10 fingers (8 and 2 thumbs, each one as pedantic as the last), so I swapped this to learn to touch type.
  • See stonehenge, go to Ireland - Why not? Remind me in about a year.
  • Have 43 goals - I'm not sure whether the paradox is funny or not, but I'm leaving this in since I don't have 43 goals any more anyway.
  • Be Slashdotted - This isn't something that's likely to happen at all, but I'll leave it for now as I'd still like the nerd points.
  • Code a moblog in PHP - I'll do this eventually, dependent on taking photos and probably getting a new phone, which won't happen soon.
  • Get over my dislike of macs - Hmm... if this said "hate" I'd mark it done, but since it's only "dislike" and the person that first added the goal has given up, I'll give up too.
  • Learn to moonwalk, become ambidextrous - I have a feeling these aren't possible, but I'll let them stay for now.
  • Spread the word that "door hinge," in fact, rhymes with orange - kind of - I'm really disappointed I forgot about this one, because it's so true. Especially in a Hull accent.
  • Become a better chess player - Don't care, given up.
  • Read 1984 - Zing. Done.
  • Find out what my blood type is - After the countless blood tests I've had in the past year or so, you'd have thought I'd have managed this, right? Nope. I'm sure umpteen nurses, doctors, and researchers all know, but I never thought to ask.
  • Survive Cancer - Yeah, I deliberately left this to last. I'm just not sure whether I should mark it done or not. I'm surviving right now, but there's hardly a day that passes that I don't think about it, and I'll hardly be able to say I've "survived" something when it doesn't go away. Would marking it done be tempting fate, or something like that? I think for now I'll leave it, and set a reminder for me to think again.

I'm not sure whether I'm "supposed" to replace the items I removed to make it equal 43 again, but I should probably at least replace the ones I gave up on. So far I added shave my head 'cause it sounds fun, and swear more, which is just to balance the 315 people who want to swear less. I'll try to think of some serious ones later.

?/43

Speaking of New Year's resolutions, it's almost exactly two years since I signed up to 43 Things. I added a few things, then got bored and forgot about it. Then a year ago I made my list up to 43, and promptly forgot about it again. Not too good a record when the whole point of the site is to do things.

But I thought I'd review my list anyway, see if I've made any progress at all. Note that this is going to be a long post mostly for my own benefit, so feel free to ingore it. Here goes nothing:

  • Stop procrastinating - Hmm. Not really. As I keep saying in these situations to pretend to be funny, "maybe later".
  • Take more pictures - Unless I take it literally and say that one or two a month is more than zero, I haven't made progress here. Though I do think it's still something I want to do, and a camera is probably something I could have asked for for Christmas.
  • See the Northern Lights - Maybe if I do this, I could take a picture...
  • Add gallery software to my website - If I started taking pictures I'd probably force myself to do this one. Wish I could mark things as dependent on each other.
  • Blog more often - I'm not blogging that often, but I am writing more than I did in the past, so I'm going to mark this done.
  • Become a Wikipedia contributor - Nope, don't care about this any more.
  • Clean up my computer's desktop - Heh, I did this one pretty quickly, then had to do it again, then did it, and now I have a screenful of icons again. It's a constant battle.
  • Master CSS - Marking this done.
  • Learn how to remember peoples' names - Somehow I don't seem to be as bad at this as I was, and I have to mark things done at some point, so this one is gone.
  • Use Linux, witness the end of IE, format my computer, master PHP, get more people to read my blog - Ah, geeky ones that felt like a good idea at the time but now just look daft. Give up, done, give up, do nothing, do nothing respectively.
  • Grow a beard - Was going to do this after my chemo, but changed my mind. Still, it's something I should do at some point, for no particular reason.
  • Release my code - See #1.
  • Drink eight glasses of water each day - I probably do this, just I'm not quite bothered enough to count. I'll mark it done anyway.
  • Get more sleep - Fail. Complete and utter fail. :(
  • Become a better programmer - Kind of. Since "better" is really vague, I'll say I'm done.
  • Create a vaguely interesting, cross-platform computer game - file under geeky again, and leave for a bit longer. I clicked the thing that makes it remind my future self.
  • Make a cool / useful firefox plugin - RandomTab doesn't count.
  • Stop "trying out 43 things" and actually do the stuff that's on my list - Done. A bit.
  • Relax - "Remind me in a month", when I think I'll be able to judge this a bit better.
  • Do a regular podcast - Well, I'm part of Numbcast, but that's not regular and I don't think anything I do in the future will be. I give up.

Unless I've counted wrong, that's 24, and this post is already pretty long, so I'm going to stop and do the rest later, probably tomorrow.

Random notes that don't belong anywhere else

  • Christmas was fun after all. I can't really explain why, but I just randomly started feeling "festive" on Christmas Eve, and went back to "normal" on Boxing Day.
  • Wikipedia says it's a running joke that cracker jokes aren't funny, so it must be true. Can't say I'd argue. The toys are also pretty random, but I suppose that's part of the fun. One cracker contained a mini water pistol, which admittedly wasn't the best thing to be in my possession on the least mature day of the year.
  • I just thought - if you get addicted to Christmas leftovers and then try to quit, is that called Cold Turkey Cold Turkey?
  • So this domain name is four years old today. A lot's happened, including about a year of it displaying nothing but a flashing background with a silly noise. That was probably my best content yet.
  • Relatives insist on asking how I'm doing at school. Which reminds me of exams in two weeks. Which kinda spoils things a bit.
  • I need a proper New Year's Resolution. Any suggestions?

So I'm saying it.

Merry Christmas.

I was trying to think of a "clever" way of saying that, but screw that. It doesn't matter.

Oh, and if you're reading this purely by the feed you should probably stay that way. It's not pretty here.

Surpass: omgwtf?

So I noticed I'd hardly posted anything under the webhosting tag for two years. I thought for a bit, and there's a pretty simple reason: I haven't had enough to complain about.

I won't say I've had no problems since I moved to Surpass Hosting in 2004, but when I did they've been able to sort them out, even the really ugly routing issue that turned out to be an AboveNet problem. I can vaguely remember this server being down once, and it wasn't for long.

Anyway, here's where I'd normally turn round and say something negative. But I won't, 'cause they just continue to amaze. They recently redesigned their site and upped the hosting plans along with it. The plan I'm on (OC5) was pretty good value at $59(~£30)/year for 5GB space and 100GB/month bandwidth, and now it'll have ten times as much space and twenty times the bandwidth.

I don't know how that can make commercial sense, and I don't know if I'll ever actually need all that, but even if I don't I can still take advantage of the fact the new plan is slightly cheaper. And has more add-on domains.

Though on the other hand, Numbcast's ambition of breaking my bandwidth limit just got set back a bit... No, Joicey, that's not a new challenge.

The odd one out.

From my ISP's December newsletter:

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY - World AIDS Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day

I was going to hilariously complain about not getting any World AIDS Day presents, but I just realized that's actually a Daily Show reference and I'm not being original (or funny) at all. And anyway, who the hell buys a diary that doesn't already have Christmas in it?

I've been trying to get excited over Christmas this year. Well, trying to try. It's not really working. The most annoying thing is people asking me what I want, and me not being able to give a straight answer. I mean, people want to give me stuff for free for no particular reason, and I don't want anything.

It's not that I'm rejecting materialism on principle or anything like that, it's just I can't think of anything tangible that would improve my life - 'cause as far as physical things go it's pretty good. So over the holiday I'm going to try to get my head straightened out a bit, and figure out what the hell I'm doing. That'd be a good gift to myself, I suppose.

Maybe I do think too much.

UCAS Card

Being nagged at school to apply for a UCAS Card. It has a pretty website that tries to explain what the hell it is, but doesn't do a very good job. Apparently it'll help me get info on higher education as well as receiving exciting special offers by email. Oh, wait.

Nah, I'm not that naïve. It was pretty obvious from them asking for my email, address, and mobile phone number, and presenting a form with a load of small print and four checkboxes at the bottom that they want to sell my data. Part of the small print being that the scheme isn't operated by UCAS itself but by "UCAS Enterprises Ltd" with their unique database for bespoke direct marketing material.

But anyway, I checked two of the boxes (a T&C agreement and an opt-out, the other two being opt-ins so that if you blindly check everything you still end up volunteering for junk) and submitted it. At least I'll be able to bitch at them if they spam the unique email address I gave them, and I'll still get the card so I can get discounts on stuff I'll never end up using.

But then I suppose I'll get on enough marketing lists eventually, and getting junk mail is now an unavoidable part of growing up (and judging by my email account, I'm really old already)...

Random notes:

  • The silliest part of the process was having to remember a centre number when they could have just provided a search function, or used the exam system numbers that we all remember. Just to be annoying: The UCAS card numbers for Beverley Joint Sixth are 13365 for Beverley Grammar School, and 13366 for Beverley High School.
  • I'll admit, I don't actually know what "bespoke" means and I don't plan on looking it up until after I post this. I'm guessing it's one of those business words that sounds really nice and doesn't mean much more than "good".
  • The form helpfully timed out "for security reasons" whilst I was writing this and made me re-enter everything. Thanks.
  • I know I'm being cynical, but I think it says something about the expected intelligence of university applicants when they don't trust us to enter a year of birth manually, instead offering a dropdown box the height of the screen.
  • And just for fun, the main content of the site doesn't need a card number at all - it's here. Don't expect much, unless you love Flash games where you bash the keyboard to stop a poorly-drawn dog falling over.

Eyes. Bleeding.

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating slightly. And when I say "slightly", I mean "completely". Though I have seriously spent too much time staring at screens recently. If nothing else I'm doing well on WhatPulse.

One

Problem is, once I code something new, it becomes a toy and I can't stop playing with it until it meets some definition of perfect, and by then I've spent a whole hour messing with one variable or something.

The "thing" in question today was numbcast.com/linky, a big chunk of PHP that generates ad banners along with an equally big chunk of JavaScript to let people customise them. The result looks like this...

Numbcast

...and I'm hoping that by making this really easy we'll get viral or something. Ah well, I can dream.

Two

Also, I had the clever idea of shining a light directly in my eye. Saying that implies there's a really good explanation to follow, but there isn't one.

I just wanted a new photo for my about page and my MySpace profile, and I thought that if everybody else was taking crap photos I might as well join them. So I got the lighting wrong, the angle wrong, and the hair wrong, and started taking random photos.

Most of the photos I take get deleted, usually 'cause I'm pulling a face that means it takes around two and a half seconds for me to realise I don't want the picture anywhere near the Internet. However, I actually like one of the pictures...

...though I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because the lighting means you can't see me properly, or because I have a glint in my eye that wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the 50-watt bulb two feet away from my face. Whatever. Oh, and no, I don't need a haircut.

Feels like work

Though it feels like I spent most of this weekend asleep, I did get some stuff done. I caught up on most of my homework, then felt the strange urge to do some coding. :/

It's not that I don't like PHP any more. I mean, for all the little ways it annoys me, I abuse it back just as much and still enjoy coding new stuff in it. But it's going slowly, even when it's something I want to finish like the rewrite of this site. Today I wrote some database code that wraps the normal mysql_connect stuff, handles table prefixes, and reports errors. I also used PHP 5's fancy new Iterator stuff to let me loop through results with foreach() like I'm sure Python coders already take for granted.

Still, all the new blog code can do at the moment is list posts and say "zomg hi", so at this rate it'll probably take me a year or two to finish it...

In other timewasting news, I went ahead and added crap snow to tundraH.com, cz.rdmsoft, and even my MySpace profile. I also put Joe's Christmas logo up on numbcast.com, though I'm not totally happy with the code for it yet. I also can't really add any snow 'cause it already has a white background. :(

My Skin

Last night was parents' evening, you know, the event where you, your parents, and your teachers sit round a table pretending to be friends whilst discussing how much of a failure you are.

Just kidding. Not that I want to gloat/jinx/tempt fate/etc., but I'm doing pretty well academically, and with my target grades all being As I guess the only way is down...

Two teachers independently noted they thought I had a dry sense of humour, which predictably amused me. Most teachers mentioned that I was a bit quiet, which isn't exactly headline news. One said I was "coming out of my skin" more this year and that this is apparently a good thing. This made me think.

I am becoming more aware that I'm very different in different situations, and that my real self is much less expressive than I am in my head. I mean, I can have a perfect idea in my head about what I want to say to someone next time I see them, and it'll sound really clever and respectful. Then when I do see them, I'll say an awkward "hello", or just nod and grunt or something.

I sing in the shower. There, said it. Figurative piss will be available for collection shortly. Seriously though, when I'm on my own I make a lot more sense, and obviously inside my head I'm unmoderated. But even when I'm with friends that I know won't care what I say, I restrict myself. I need to fix that.

Online, I'm kind of halfway - there's nobody else watching me directly, but then there's still an instinct to lunge for the backspace key right after I've typed something I really mean, but just don't feel confident saying at the moment. And when I'm writing blog posts like this one, I try too hard. I try to sound more philosophical, more insightful than I really am. I try to work in silly in-jokes and phrases that aren't even interesting at all. For example, while writing this post I've been trying to find a way of saying "my 'skin' is a chrysalis" without sounding really contrived and far too emo for my own good. But it didn't work, so I'm pointing it out to draw attention to my failure. Then I'm pointing out how I'm doing that, then... I think you get the idea.

But then it doesn't matter if you don't, since it's my blog and not yours. I honestly don't know why I'm posting this in public rather than writing it to myself or something like any normal person. Maybe I like to think it makes me more accountable to myself, but I like to think a lot of things, and some of those aren't true.

Anyway, now that I've realised I'm making no sense, I'm going to acknowledge that in a paragraph starting with "anyway", and then end it with three dots. Wait, I just did...

Keeping Up

Been falling behind with Internet stuff (blogs, podcasts, bugmail) recently, which I'm taking as a good sign that I'm spending more time on work and, you know, talking to people and stuff.

Went to see Alison Angus at The Adelphi on Thursday. They weren't the biggest name on the posters, but it seemed like half the room was there to support them, so it was cool. They played a fantastic set, after which I stayed for That Fucking Tank, who were insane. In a good way.

Coming home a bit deaf and stinking of smoke, but otherwise okay, I finally got to hit the switch on the Alison Angus Numbcast we recorded a month ago, which got edited along the way so it doesn't totally rape your ears. It's not the most coherent bit of audio ever recorded, but I think it's worth listening to even if you skip the first 10 minutes of crap and go straight to the music/interview. Especially if you know Birchy and Josh, and want to find out some... uh... personal info about them.

On Saturday I went to a birthday party, and I'd just like to say that bouncy castles never get old. Even when you're 18. Though now I'm regretting what seemed like a good idea at the time, as my legs still ache a bit...

I've also been thinking a bit recently about school and about being a year behind. People ask me what it's like all the time, and I usually say I don't know, along with something mumbled and unconvincing about it being a bit weird but I don't have much choice and such. And that's true, but I think there's more to it.

Year 12 has been overwhelming in a way I'm still finding hard to explain. I mean, there's obviously a lot of history with my own year, there are groups, and that's not always a bad thing. (Calling people my own age "old friends" sounds a bit odd, but yeah, they're still friends.) But going to school every day and seeing 100-odd people I didn't know a few months ago, and making first impressions again, is something different. Some people I'm only just getting to know. Some I already feel like I've known my entire life. That they're a bit younger makes no difference, they're great people and I'm honestly enjoying life with them.

'Course, I can't think about friends without thinking about the one that's not here any more, but I don't know what I can say about Tunnie that would make any sense. I don't know whether it's actually sunk in properly, or whether it ever will. I need to think about it some more.

And more generally, I know it's easy to identify people by their problems. I suppose that's reasonable if you don't know somebody, but I don't really like it. Maybe I'm being idealistic, but it'd be nice if people were always known for their successes.

I guess I just need some of those now.

Crap Snow 2006

There, site stylesheet changed. Didn't think I'd forget, did you?

tH