Exams Are Over

My exams have been over since Friday which is such a huge weight off my mind I can’t tell you. I’m currently recovering from nervous exhaustion and also swollen lymph glands after a virus. My head and neck are aching like I’ve been run over by an ocean liner but none of this stops me feeling happy, relaxed and relieved it’s all over! Apart from the fact that drinking any of my 18 cans of celebratory Guinness from the supermarket just makes my head worse πŸ˜›

I won’t go on too much about how I think I’ve done but Computing and DT went very well and Maths was almost as bad as I had expected and nowhere near good enough. Having said that the improvement on last year was good, not hard.

My current fad is learning 80×86 Assembly Language on a 486 laptop but we’ll see how long that lasts when I start trying to debug the stuff πŸ˜› I’ve finally got the time to do all the things I’ve been planning on doing for months which is wonderful, but it does make my diary rather full.

Coming up in the next two weeks I have an intensive driving course, Mac hacking, Prodesktop playing, Debian installing, driving theory test, meetings, “book return day”, at least one day at my new work place, a weekend of work in London, Young Engineers regional finals in Derby, a Prom and a cinema visit… and the list is still growing. I forgot that being busy could actually be fun.

I’ve spent some very relaxing time with lauperr recently although she’s still a little strung out because she has a couple more exams left. Soon we’ll both be able to relax and spend proper time together.

For the moment things are good.

GMail Machine Demise and the OD2 Rip Off

I bring you the mildly amusing tale of the “GMail Machine”.

Some bright spark came up with the following great idea:

“Welcome to the Gmail Machine. As most of you know Gmail accounts have been rather difficult to come by. Soo.. We decided to create this service to allow you a chance to win a free Gmail invite. Simply click your refresh button over and over again to see a random number(hippygeek: between 0 and 99999), if you see the number 1337 (hippygeek: oh dear :S) you win a free Gmail invite!” [Google Cache]

Another bright spark posted the URL on Slashdot. At this point they apparently had over 200 Gmail codes to give out.

6 hours and about 10,000,000 hits later, no more GMail codes have been given out and the GMail Machine is no more! That’s some serious bandwidth.

I do try to stick up for Slashdot now and then because it’s a great news source if you ignore the subsequent flame wars underneath each news item – but this just shows the kind of people who read it πŸ™‚

For some real humour, visit today’s User Friendly

A good in depth article on OD2 music dowloads is here (OD2 provide music downloads to companies like Virgin, MSN and Wanadoo). I’m yet to find a download site for mainstream music which isn’t a rip off.

Is there even a fair solution? I suspect the problem is more the business models of the record companies rather than the download sites themselves – and now they’re trying to make things worse by making us pay to listen to a song rather than pay to own a copy of a song. OD2s DRM licenses only last for a year for example! And what happens if you burn a track to CD legitimately then your hard disk dies and you lose all you licenses… how do you prove you payed for the music? Oh and btw, if you run Linux you’re screwed anyway because the software only runs on Windows. It even appears that burning the tracks to CD is breaking the terms and conditions of the OD2 service desptite being a major selling point! (read the article for more).

Praising the Mozilla Foundation

Yet again I am impressed by Mozilla’s products. Following the announcement of the release of Mozilla Firefox 0.9 yesterday I find out today that a Thunderbird 0.7 release is hot on its heels as announced here today!

If I didn’t know better I’d think the guys who hack at the Mozilla products were reading my mind, adding all the features I really want. One of the features added to the Thunderbird mail client is the ability to have multiple identities per account – i.e. several email addresses for one account. This is a feature I’ve been wanting ever since I first installed Thunderbird but I didn’t even know how to describe it, let alone ask for it! Basically it’s useful because I only really have two (actually three but I’m trying to get rid of one) pop3 accounts but I send and recieve emails from and to several addresses using that pop3 box.

I know I know, call me sad but I really am impressed by these guys. I find it mildly amusing that both the Firefox browser and the Thunderbird mail client are technically still only previews (they’re not even to version 1 yet) and they’re already more stable, useful and slimmed down than IE and OE by an order of magnitude!

If you’re still using the unruly Internet Explorer beast, do yourself a favour and download Firefox. Once you’ve experienced stable tabbed browsing you’ll never look back πŸ™‚ Long live Mozilla!

OK, I’m done evangalising now.

Bill Bryson scoops a prize

I’ve been meaning to mention that Bill Bryson’s book “A Short History of Nearly Everything” won the Aventis Science Book Prize on Monday night which was well deserved. Bryson was the first non-scientist to win the prize and decided to donate the Β£10,000 winnings to charity. Upon hearing this, “Oldenburg was impressed and pledged the foundation would match Bryson’s donation.” I can recommend the book which took me an age to read but was well worth it.

djkoa is getting a GMail account which I’m dying to have a look at and Firefox 0.9 was officially released today. You can copy images at last! A few good improvements and things fixed.

I spent most of today setting up a bank account and filling out medical forms and writing letters, very dull.

I was awoken by a beautiful woman bearing warm croissants and fresh bread for breakfast this morning. I was delighted when I realised I wasn’t dreaming πŸ™‚ I don’t tell lauperr how special she is often enough.


iTunes has been launched in the UK France and Germany so I downloaded it to have a look. I do appreciate what Apple are trying to do but for me the the DRM on the downloads makes it useful for one thing: Finding cool online radio stations! I’m just not happy about buying music files which have so many restrictions on them. Once I’ve bought the music I expect to be able to do whatever I want with it providing I’m not breaking the law.

I’m thinking that wasn’t really worth a 20mb download… hmm…

I’ve been reading the EFF web site regarding file sharing but I’m not sure all of their ideas are really all that well thought out.

I’ve seen an amusing video about the music industry, although its message is a little… corrupt. I’d rather people watched the videos here[creative commons]. Creative Commons licenses still need work though, currently none of them are DFSG-free. but we’re working on that.

I’ve spent today revising maths, watching Gladiator for the first time and doing some web development stuff. Only two weeks including this one to go before exams are over.

hippygeek gets a job

I got the job! As of September (contract pending) I’ll be an ICT technician for the Art and Design department of the Vale of Catmose College in Oakham. This means that I’ll be working mainly with apple macs which I’m really happy about because it means I’ll be getting some new experience. There are a few Windows PCs lying around for adult learning and prodesktop and things but not any GNU/Linux boxen, as of yet πŸ˜‰

I think the job is going to be very tiring with working with the students AND looking after a network and various other bits, but hopefully it’s going to be very interesting and as it’s only term time and 30 hours a week there should be time for other work too, providing I’m not too tired! I’m told there’s even the possibility of helping out in their theatre now and then which will be great. I was particularly chuffed because apparently the two other candidates who turned up for interview both had degrees, but I got the job!

Bourne Festival is happening this weekend and it’s so hard to stay away from it! On Thursday night I walked past and saw open flight cases and was just DYING to go over and help out. But I have revision to do. I did go on Friday night after my exam for a break though, and I watched the last act last night too which was “Doctor and the Medics” of 80s fame with their number one hit “Spirit in the Sky”. It was a fantastic performance and I’m told the previous act was good too. “The Doctor” praised the organisers for putting together a great festival and helping to prevent live music from dying! Who says community is dead…

I’m personally proud of Bourne and The Round Table for managing to organise such a great event, there were 6000 people packed onto the Wellhead field last night apparently, including bouncykaz and mchicago who it was nice to meet! It’s just a shame that the event is on such stupid dates though, right in the middle of all the student’s exams in Bourne.

I think I might go tonight to see the second sitting of The Houndogs and Legend which are both really great bands, wish I had time to see more of it πŸ™

There was a mysterious power cut last night at an unknown hour between 1:30 and 3:45am which took out tralk and woke lauperr and I with the sound of very loud white noise from my radio when it came back on!

Yesterday I ate a microwaveable prawn curry only to find out that it was actually 6 months out of date. A healthy dose of whisky, Rum, Tia Maria and Guinness seemed to cure the problem though! πŸ˜› The former three were meant to be part of a Black Russian but mum accidentally put Rum in instead of Vodka! :S

P.S. I think I’ve helped to “fix” the Creative Commons licenses which is very cool. Perhaps the next version of some of the CC licenses will be DFSG-free and everyone will be happy πŸ™‚ It’s great when groups like CC and Debian-Legal interact in this way. Keep up the good work guys!

Young Engineer of the Year

I’ve just had a phone call to tell me that I’m through the the regional finals for the Young Engineer of the Year competition, w00t! Next step is to exhibit my work at Rolls Royce in Derby in July.

I’ve got an interview for the job I applied for! At first I thought I’d lost out because I have a maths exam the same day as the all day interviews and they said there was nothing they could do to change it. But then I got a phone call back and the Principal said I could have an interview on a different day so my interview is on Thursday! Considering the deadline for applications was only yesterday morning that’s pretty soon. So I have interview right in the middle of three maths exams, wonderful.

Extremely hot weather. A thermometer in the back garden reads 33 degrees celcius, but it is in the sun. I think my router overheated.

I telnetted to it and it kept throwing error messages at me saying it couldn’t get an IP address. tralk’s last apache activity was at 6am this morning from an MSN bot and everything refused to work.

Internet Down

So I implemented my high tech cooling system…

Hot Router

And everything worked again!

Worried mind

For some reason yesterday I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I hadn’t slept very well the previous night which may have something to do with it. I spent the day thinking a lot about things like global warming, endangered species, software patents, corrupt copyright law and for the first time for me really, politics.

The global warming/endangered fuzzy things thoughts were probably a result of a combination of the Douglas Adams book I just finished and the film we watched yesterday – The Day After Tomorrow. I really enjoyed the film despite the slightly limp plot and horrid CGI wolves, but it was a little bit too real for me. It didn’t even matter that some of it was likely factually incorrect and exaggerated.

Coming out of the cinema we discovered lauperr‘s wallet had gone missing and was most likely stolen. Inside was a quarter of her monthly wages, cash card, driving licnese, NI card etc. so the rest of the day was very stressful for her, having to ring the bank, DVLA, police etc.

That didn’t do much for my already tainted view of humanity.

By the end of the day my state of mind had slipped so low I actually found myself emailing candidates for the European elections and anyone who knows me will know just how out of character that is for me.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Last night lauperr slept over and today we took her five year old sister to take a picture she’d drawn to my grandparents where we stayed a little longer than I had hoped. This evening I’ve finished my latest job application and I’m going to hand deliver it tomorrow so I can get a look at the place.

Todays interesting URLS:
LocustWorld – Bio Diverse Networking unleashed!
South Witham Broadband
Community Wireless

Grr. I’ve just missed the beginning of Hannibal.

Btw, welcome to wildduckling and her new LiveJournal.

Double Click Patent and CC for the BBC

On April 27th Microsoft was granted patent number 6,727,830 which is basically a patent on double clicking. Surely someone can muster some prior art for this one? I can’t help but think this is getting silly. See Eurovote

The BBC has announced that they will be opening up their archive and applying Creative Commons licenses to the works. On the face of it this is fantastic news and could help spread awareness of what Creative Commons are trying to do. However, in light of one of slef’s recent blog posts here I have some concerns over the CC licenses. Under the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) the CC licenses are still non-free as described here. This has put a dent in my enthusiasm about Creative Commons.

Further to my previous post about small hard disks, Toshiba have just announced the release of a 60Gb 1.8″ hard drive and “Toshiba is currently shipping 350,000 of the 1.8-inch drives per month to Apple for use in the iPod”.

The 40Gb disk had two platters each holding 20Gb, the new 60Gb disk has increased that to 30Gb per platter bringing the total to 60Gb. This is astonishing when you actually hold an iPod which I did for the first time a few days ago. The things are tiny! And that’s not even the iPod mini. I can see iRiver coming up with the “iHP 1-60” soon too.

In other news, the trailer for Michael Moore’s new documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11 has been released but I’m having the usual problems with Windows Media Player and Quicktime and so far have only heard the sound!

Shareaza, a file sharing client I’d never heard of has just released its source code under the GPL. Having not been impressed by any file sharing clients at all recently I thought I’d give it a go (I like searching for CC licensed music to try). So far all it seems to have done is miraculously crashed my router several times! The mind boggles.

I got an application form through this morning for another part time ICT technician job. The pay is pretty lousy as usual but I like the look of this one.

lauperr has set up her new web site, EveryoneLoves.me.uk Click “[enter]” just above the soppy holding page image I made to have a look inside. Seeing as it’s hosted on tralk in my bedroom it has probably been a little temperamental recently due to my router problems but should be OK now.

I finished reading Douglas Adams’ Last Chance to See last night. I’ve never had so many goose pimples from the ending of a book before, it was very thought provoking. It was still a much lighter read than the Bill Bryson book I read last which lead onto this one perfectly.

Plan for today: more maths and the job application.