Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Stu and the Gadgets

Yup - I've finally upgraded my mobile phone. mp3 player, video camera and digital camera all in 1 (though no flash). If you're a guru on these things it's an LG U8330 with a pretty reasonable contract and plenty of free crap.

Of course in true Stuart Kerrigan tradition I'm 19 minutes to register it today, but expect "Here's my new number" texts at some points. If you have a mobile. And can take texts. Move along.

Stu on Tour

We interrupt our regular diet of D&D movie trivia, geekdom and other twoddle to bring you this announcement.

I'm going off on hols on the 9th 'til the 25th, going back to Dundee initially and then the Shetlands, and then back to Dundee. I've finally got my approval (it took my boss two weeks and much prodding to tell me it'd be approved - we have a close relationship here), and soon it'll be time to start packing again.

Which is good because Leicester is swiftly turning into the most boring place on Earth where my routine is go to work, come home, eat, watch TV, bed, intersperced with going to the gym or swimming.

So - this time, don't be out the country, on holiday, ill, absent, abducted or whatever.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I knew it!

Outcast Genius
65 % Nerd, 69% Geek, 56% Dork
For The Record:



A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.



You scored better than half in all three, earning you the title of: Outcast Genius.


Outcast geniuses usually are bright enough to understand what society
wants of them, and they just don't care! They are highly intelligent
and passionate about the things they know are *truly* important in the
world. Typically, this does not include sports, cars or make-up, but it
can on occassion (and if it does then they know more than all of their
friends combined in that subject).


Outcast geniuses can be very lonely, due to their being
outcast from most normal groups and too smart for the room among many
other types of dorks and geeks, but they can also be the types to
eventually rule the world, ala Bill Gates, the prototypical Outcast
Genius.



Congratulations!



Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in either of the following:



Buffy the Vampire Slayer




Professional Wrestling






Love & Sexuality





Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST



My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 71% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 92% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 91% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

Sunday, August 28, 2005

D&D2: The Verdict

So - is it as bad as the original?

No, but then what could be?

D&D The Elemental Might is a direct-sequel to the first D&D movie unfortunately. But it doesn't explain the dire ending to the dire D&D1.

Unforunately it's still set in Izmier (which is now a Kingdom complete with king, not an Empire with an empress - but hey, what's continuity?). And they've forgotten that the kingdom has a golden rod that controls gold dragons, which is a bit of a problem as that kind of mojo is very handy when a very nasty firebreathing black dragon turns up to threaten Izmir.

In another bout of amazing continuity Bruce Payne's villain, Damador, is now a wizard, rather than the toadying warrior sidekick he was in D&D1. And he's undead, because he explains he was cursed by Jeremy Iron's wizard Ibu-Profien (despite the fact that in the first movie Damador was last seen hurtling towards the pavement very, very quickly. Maybe undead-pizza wasn't going to be a very threatening villain).

Anyway, in order to get over his bout of undeadness Damador finds this orb that allows him to awaken the black dragon, and the city of Izmir arranges a party of five adventurers, a knight (read fighter), a rogue, a cleric (of Obad-Hai, that well known Greyhawk... er Izmir... deity), a wizard and a barbarian to go off an get the orb back.

Yup - the plot is pretty cliched, but it's fairly solid unlike the first film. It's definitely on par with Hawk the Slayer (which I like) and has a fair amount of D&D elements in it. And no stupid beholders.

The guy who plays the knight is pretty good as they've realised that using actors with British accents rather than Californian drawls makes for a more authentic medieval experience. Who knew? He's also married to (a different and English accented) wizard which makes me suspect he was meant to be Ridley and the mage from the first film in the original scripts and they didn't bother to change the names.

Everyone gets stuff to do in this film, unlike the last one where most the characters sat around going, "They must do this alone" while the main pair bumbled around. Even the mage-wife gets a hefty dose of plot. And the rogue is pretty competent.

There are very few fight scenes in this movie - the ones there are seem to be over very, very quickly. The best one if about 5 minutes into the movie and it is a sparring match between the kniggit and some peon. There is no final battle to speak of - the heroes just spook the baddie's horse and he falls off it and he's arrested. And stuck in jail. And that's it. Enough said.

Now go hence and find someone to make Dragonlance into a trilogy of movies.

SNNNNAAAAIIIILLLLSSSS

Or They Said Lightning Never Strikes Twice... They Lied! They Lied!

Many of you will know of the Dungeons and Dragons movie - a film which has a place in everyone's heart. If they suffer from some affliction of the heart. Some of you have even sat through the excellent "Stu and Alex's Commentary" version of this film, which I am told is more enjoyable than the original film. Some folk I know even got a refund when seeing it in the cinema as they didn't show the Lord of the Rings trailer.

They've made a sequel.



Worse yet, I have managed to get an early copy of this inevitable train wreck. Look at the poster...



Note the lack of blue lipstick on the all-too familiar baddie.

In preparation for this thankfully all too uncommon event I've inflicted my DVD of D&D1 on my housemate - including the wonderful D&D cameo deleted scene where you see Jeremy Irons hamming it up one second, and the next second after "cut" is called walking off the set realising what a terrible B-movie his Oscar winning Shakespearean self has been contractually manoeuvered into making.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday's Cool Link: Leeroy Jones

The Adventures of the Paladin Leeroy Jones. High geek content but so funny - especially "At least I've got chicken."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Financial Leper 2: The Curse of the Deadly Revenge of Vengeance Caused by Mild Upset

So, my day of financial woe continued.

On Saturday I discovered that my bank statements, which I have never seen since I first moved to Leicester, were being delivered to No. 31 in my street. As I'm a 13 (gee, can you spot the data entry problem there?) this has made it a little difficult to check my finances. I only discovered this thanks to the ever-so-clever postman who reasoned that since another letter for me was going to 13, maybe this one was as well.

I reasoned that perhaps the reason my phone order was declined was because my address and my account's address are not quite the same. Either roads it was something I needed to fix ASAP.

Anyroads, if you've read my blog before you know that the Bank of Scotland branch in Leicester is useless. Their stock answer to any question is to tell you to use the phone-banking service. After all they can't do money transfers, standing orders, or even allow me to query my account statements on their computer. It hardly seemed likely they could allow me to change my address.

In fact it seemed as probable as the teller saying, "For the inconvenience here is an extra 5 million for your account. And have my wife thrown in as a bonus too."

Realising this I used the BoS phone banking service. Since it would save me a trip down to the city centre only to be told to use the phone service. However the wifie on the phone informed me they couldn't change my address for me - the only way I could change my address was by popping into my branch...

... which is 365 miles or so away.

Needless to say I was somewhat vexed.

So she qualified by saying I could pop into any branch of the BoS and get my address changed.

Needless to say I was cynical, due to my previous experience with Leicester's muppet squad branch.

Blind-faith at the ready I popped into the BoS in Friar Lane, Leicester, after work. I walked up to the teller, noting that for a change there was no enormous queue and equally enormous wait which would culminate in said stock answer involving a phone and me possibly smashing the glass in an attempt to insert their phone service into the teller.

I smiled politely and informed the teller of the minor clerical error which meant total strangers were getting their mits on my financial information. He looked at me like I had two heads and...

get this...

no really...

here's the twist...

you won't see it coming...

you will laugh...

no I don't have 5 million sitting in my account...

it's not that sort of twist...

ok...

give me a minute to compose myself...

the words are forming...

He told me...

sorry...

I'm not mad you know...

Well, not mad in the loss of sanity, perhaps loss of temper though...

Enough already...

He told me to use the phone banking service!

Now - I'm normally a nice, polite person but I would describe myself as swiftly becoming "stroppy" with said fellow. Minorly irked, a bit hacked off, riled, prickly, upset, vexed. I was all those things. At the same time.

I politely informed him that it was said phonebanking service that had told me that this branch, being a branch of the Bank of Scotland, would be able to ensure the reversal of the numbers "31" to "13". He remained steadfast that, despite being a bank, a Bank of Scotland bank, which by definition deals with bank accounts, they could not deal with this.

I know - perhaps the maths of reversing 2 digits is a little beyond Leicester's branch.

Or maybe their brains are wired so they can't do it. A sensible precaution to stop £5,000,000 becoming £0,000,005. None the less he seemed adamant, nay crystal clear that phonebanking could deal with this. I however was more adamant, more crystal clear. In fact I was certain! So he said he'd get the relevant form for me.

The "form" I had to fill in was a piece of paper, taken, I suspect from their printer. I'd wager it's a dot-matrix, given how up to date and on the ball the branch is.

A blank piece of paper. I'd to put my account number and details in, and he would forward it on to the Broughty Ferry branch. So I scribbled down the basic concepts of how to reverse "31" into "13". I even went so far as to explain it in English.

After this I queried him that the process of changing my address would take 7-8 days to come through (though I suspect that's if the branch is working at peak efficiency and no-one increases the level of sedatives in their water-cooler beyond normal levels). Unfortunately they couldn't provide any confirmation if it went through, but if I got my bank statement delivered next month it might be a good indicator, if a little late if the opposite happened.

Fairly certain said piece of paper would not disappear into whatever filing system they keep I wandered away, muttering words like "incompetent" and "idiots" and contemplating all the various other banks in Leicester I could open an account with that might save me the trouble of taxing the minds of Leicester's Bank of Scotland branch.

I returned home, and phoned up the Carphone Warehouse people and it turns out Mare wins the grand prize for guessing correctly - I'm not quite yet on the electoral roll. However if I got to a Carphone Warehouse shop with 2 proofs of address they will run a credit check which will probably not end in me being labelled a big risk.

Wow - what a long rant.

Financial Leper

Having not got my new phone from Carphone Warehouse I emailed customer care and got the following gem:-

"I am sorry to hear that you have not received your order you requested on the 18th August 2005.

Having investigated your customer account. I am sorry to inform you that your order was declined. Please be advised we have sent you an email to inform you this on the 18th August 2005."

No reason - no justification - no clue. I'm certainly good for £10 a month, but it may be that I've only just moved.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hai

My japanese name is 原 Hara (wilderness) 翔 Shou (soar).
Take your real japanese name generator! today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Technology - who'd use it!

I've joined the ranks of the passport holders since my passport arrived by courier on Saturday morning. I'm also waiting on getting a funky new phone to replace my old one, given it only recharges its battery after about 60 or 70 failed attempts. The charger interface has just never been working 100%. Thing is it was supposed to be next day delivery (or 2-3 day delivery) and I've had no word so far on it.

The Stu Mobile is sick - the horn is working less than half the time. I've been over to the local garage and they reckon its the switches on the steering wheel, not the horn itself, which means a bit of a job to replace the switch. Of course my car is supposed to have a 3 year warranty but my experience with Arnold Clark has been less than positive so far. I've a 10% discount card on all repairs and servicing which has not applied to any repairs and servicing I've received so far so I expect my warranty will doubtless only cover work done at Arnold Clark shops, or some other small print, of which there are no shops in Leicester.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Kingdom of the Most Majestic Stu

I've been playing Nation States, which I found out about on Life 60 Degrees North. It's a game where you create a nation and each day a moral issue is posted to the web. You answer it and it determines your nation. Without further ado:-

The Kingdom of the Majestic Stu

Keep track of this every day - the country will change.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Alton Towers Photos

Finally uploaded the in-ride photos of Alton Towers.



Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dr Stu on Dr Who

Just watched the first McCoy episode, Time and the Rani, on UK Gold (mmm... Sky Plus means I can watch shows that come on at 7am). I watched all the Colin Baker ones except the Dalek one which they didn't show.

Sorry Brad, but Colin's Doctor is awful.

Trial of a Timelord makes next to no sense. He pushes people into acid baths, fires guns and just generally acts like a roleplaying character with a very arrogant player.

However McCoy was brilliant during the first episode. Little things like solemnly taking his hat off when he accidentally led a monster to be blown up on a mine, while Colin Baker would've arrogantly swanned off making some sort of intellectual quib with as many words as his peripetatic diction would allow consummation of.

Mind you it's still not all grins, all Bonnie Langford seems to be there for is to scream at an annoyingly high pitch. I'm sure it will be a plot-point one of these days - maybe they'll need to break some glass.

Careful What You Say

I've ordered a mega cool 1 Gig MP3 player from Aria last night and am looking forward to getting it. One of the many cool features is it acts as a dictophone so I may do some audio-blogging while I'm on my hols and I can record the many, many witty conversations we have in the office. Can't wait to violate some human rights. And start calling the player "Diane".

Monday, August 15, 2005

More Office Humour


By demand from certain parties, more office humour involving B.

-------------

"Ben Shui"

"Ben Shui", not to be confused with "Feng Shui" is B.'s way of making a student-proof nest that discourages students from bothering him by making his office as inaccessible as possible without a five mile hike.

You might have noticed we redecorated the CW303 office. We got l-shaped desks. We chucked out old disgusting furniture, like B.'s old bookshelf.

B. when he got back on holiday couldn't live without it, as he has nothing to hide behind when students come in. B. stormed out the office suddenly and dragged said old bookcase into the office, placing it against the wall and then moving his l-shaped desk against the bookcase. I've a diagram for your reference... I also used to have photos of him struggling to stretch across his desk to reach books in the shelf, only to discover the desk completely blocked them. I deleted them for more interesting photos.

B. also put his partition at a 45 degree angle until he realised he couldn't get out of his chair, get out of his office space (once we shoved the spare chair he demanded for visitors in front of him).

Sadly the unique Ben Shui can no longer be seen as he eventually realised. However he managed to spend 2 days fiddling with his bookshelf non-stop

--------------

On the clock

B. sends round a high priority/urgent email that is going to take the student problem's database offline at 12 for 15 minutes. Not sure if it's 12am or 12pm (so he can take it off precisely at midday) he asks to make sure. Then at midday he tries to take it offline and edit it but the server has crashed.

Yelling about how unfair it is, and cussing and swearing like a sergeant-major B. has a kiddy-style tantrum and storms out of the office. One of these days I will get a movie file of these tantrums.

-------------

The Mary Whitehouse Experience (or the first time I suspected B. had lost his marbles)

Ben said one of the previous escapees from our office used to keep porn in the office.

Yes I was cynical.

But B. told me this was true.

Porn including such titles as "FHM", "Maxim" etc.

Now, if like me you were labouring under the impression that such things were not actually porn you were obviously wrong... at least according to Mr B.

B (pulling out copy of Maxim and shoving centre-fold in my face): "Look, dirty isn't it? Ugh, ugh..." (various other disturbing noises. I'm fairly certain he used the word, "Dirty" like the weird cleaner on that episode of Black Books)

S (rather dumfounded and shocked that B. would shove something he considers porn in my face): "Err... isn't that a lad mag. I mean she does have clothes on."

B: "Yes but its so offensive." (proceeds to show several other "pornographic" images to me and puts magazines back neatly in the cupboard).

S: "B. if you're so offended by them, why haven't you thrown them out. It's not like he's going to come back for 4 magazines from last year."

B: "..."

---------

Today's excitement is that last night B. was on University Road when a lady of the night propositioned him. And naturally he thought we'd all want to know about this.

S: "So were you so offended enough to call the police on her?"

B: "No, that's not my job."

---------

Friday, August 12, 2005

Nemesis

My Nemesis photo came in the post yesterday. I looked very very sick in it. I shall try to provide a scan of it at some point.

Office Humour

Some more wit from real conversations in the office. It helps if you're a programmer or read Dilbert...

In conversation about the on-line marking system we run:-

-------

S: "I'm a little concerned about your marking system, B. No-one else understands it."
B: "That's fine."
S: "But, what if you were run over by a bus or something."
B: "Well they could just go back to using the old paper system. It's fine."
S: "So why replace it in the first place, especially since maintaining it seems to take all your time."
B: "..."

---------

S: "How do you use the constants TRUE and FALSE in PHP?"
B: "Oh, I don't use constants. I use 1 and 0 in my code."
S: "I could believe that."

--------

Oh, and this gem ties into the whole TRUE and FALSE thing...

B: "I should do the Software Engineering module. I have an MSc in Software Engineering."
Various People in the Office: "Shame you never learned anything obviously."

--------

S enquires if B thinks he's a team player since he treats everyone else in the office like they were scum and villainy.

B (paraphrased): "Yes, I'm a team player, I just don't like unnecessary communication. I think people should communicate as little as is necessary. We need less effective communication."

--------

B (paraphrased): "My blasted CD-R drive doesn't work under Windows XP. I need Nero."
S: "Say, you have a CD-R drive. Why do you make poor U. burn all the CDs for the students on his computer?"
B (paraphrased): "Well, it's my CD-R, I paid for it and brought it in, I don't see why I should do it. Burning CDs isn't my job."
G. the Sysadmin fellow in the office looks at B. oddly.


(Page 3 of the Job Description: "assist with occasional teaching related jobs, including... creating of departmental software CD-ROMs...")

--------

In a discussion about answering student queries

B: "They'll need to employ someone else to do that."

(Page 2 of the Job Description: "Assist in providing a drop-in troubleshooting service for students run by the Department...")

-------

I've never seen anyone have so many convincing arguments for their own redundancy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

MP3s

I just got asked to go to the sysadmin's office - which is always ominous - and was asked why I'd put 200 megs of mp3s on the network. They'd been copies of some my car CDs I'd made using Realplayer and backed up on the network as my HD is due to be formatted. So I wasn't in bother fortunately, but I guess I need to get to speed on what and what not to do in this job of mine.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dungeons, Outlaws and Death-Defying Stuff

Mare came to visit me on Saturday morning, flying in from Glasgow to the East Midlands airport. Which by the way lets you park for free for 30 minutes if you put the right ticket in the machine in the way out.


Anyway in a toss-up between going to Leicester and Nottingham we initially chose Nottingham and went into the Nottingham caves which go beneath the city and have a couple of "actors" pretending to be an incredibly grumpy underground tanner and a WW2 air-warden. And you get a funky helmet to wear for the duration, which is good otherwise I'd stand an extra foot tall with the lump I'd have got from banging my head on the cave roofs.

Then we went to The Tales of Robin Hood, which is where I got the offending green hat (something of a recurring theme that day). That's one of these multimedia places where they put you on a slow moving ride where waxworks are meant to jump out and scare you. Only problem was rather than being an engaging experience it was more of a cacophony of sounds and voices as you could hear what was going on 3 exhibits/waxworks ahead of you mixed in with what you were actually supposed to be hearing. Still it was fun, even if there was no real historic content.

Sunday was the big day we went to Alton Towers. It was a reasonably long drive, further than EMA apparently, and slowed down to a crawl as we approached the village of Alton (population 3,000, all theme park haters no doubt).

The fast-track ticket is £5 and lets you skip the queue on Oblivion, Air, Flume and Nemesis once. It sounds like a con, since admission costs £29 in itself, but the queues for Nemesis can be up to 90 minutes. So we recommend the Fast-Track ticket, or "skippin' queue" as a bunch of Glasweigans on our train-cart kept saying in a suspiciously have-you-seen-the-muffin-man way as the kept running up to the window and going "Can you see the skippin' queue?" "The skippin' queue?" "Look at the skippin' queue".

Anyway, some of the rides we went on:-

Oblivion, our first ride, which is a sudden drop down a dark, dark, dark pit. Which is very dark. And a bit scary.

Corkscrew, nuff said really. Bring a pillow for your neck.

Air, flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

Nemesis, which Mare discovered is a poor choice to go on straight after lunch.

Duel - my personal favourite, where you shoot the ghosts in the Haunted House. Sadly after the aforementioned Nemesis Mare didn't want to go on any moving rides.

Hex - slightly terrifying given how poorly strapped in I was, we were expecting a relatively dull haunted house.



Still didn't seem along enough to see everything, but we were incredibly tired (and wet after flume as the Photoblog will testify). A return expedition is planned to Alton Towers for around October before it closes, and the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned! I'm also waiting for the park to send me a photo of us on the Nemesis to come through, though there's a pretty cool one of us pre-soaking on Flume which should be hanging off Mare's fridge beforel long. Much fun!

Item of Interest

BBC7 Radio Station have started broadcasting the Doctor Who radio series with Paul McGann as the Doctor. Paul was easily the best of the Doctors I remember despite only getting one episode to act in. You can stream the complete audio for the various episodes, which are very, very good. I even invested in a copy of Storm Warning on CD a few months ago (it's apparently shortened for radio).

Not a Doctor Who fan. Dammit!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Return of the Cool Friday Links

Yesterday we went hunting for decorative items for our office and the two of us who could actually be bothered actually doing something to make the office look nice came back with several paintings. Given the recent redecoration I snapped some pictures. Here they are:-

A random piece of modern art

Andy, and our up-lighter

The Van Gogh Wing/Andy's Desk

A student's view of the room.

My piece of art

The amazing Ben (see below for opinions). I sent these pics out across the Departmental mailing list (since it's rare any of the academic staff visit us and at least one important member of staff isn't entirely sure where the office is) and within minutes Ben was suddenly tidying up his office. He's even asked me to replace this picture with one of a tidy desk. Very telling.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Six DVD Star Wars Set

Lucas may be tinkering with all six films again? You'll need an IMDB account to read this. If it's true, interesting.

The Future is... Here?

I'll buy one of these for a dollar and I think I need a spare on the Island.