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Saw "Love Actually" last night. Fantastic movie.
It helps that I really dig chick flicks, but I loved it all the same.
And that thing with being English in America? That ain't made up.

* American points at thing
<American> What's that made of?
<Me> Aluminium
* Horde of American Girls giggle


It amazes me. "Do you celebrate thanksgiving in England?"

I'd like to say that it's one isolated incident.

I'm at a polit-ish thanksgiving dinner, so I can't really say the obvious
of "Yes - every year in England, we celebrate that when we left England
we could find food".

And it's not restricted to thanksgiving, either. I've really, honestly,
not-making-this-up, been asked before if we celebrate independence day
in the UK. "Yes - every year in England we celebrate the time we beat
off the English".

I'll run with the "they're making polite conversation" thing, since I
have a little thing deep inside me that just really wants to believe
people aren't actually that spectacularly stupid.


Last night [Monday] I rang up UPS to find out what was going on with
it. Apparently they'd failed, once again, to pick up my new toy from
it's misdelivery. Fantastic.

I got a little stroppy on the phone [again] to some poor girl that really
didn't deserve it [she sounded like she was about 17, just manning a phone
to make some cash]. Apparently the driver went back to the misaddress
shortly after I rang, and the place was closed. So they promised they'd
go get it this morning.

Well, they did. They must have picked it up this morning, and it arrived
at about 10:15 am. No mean feat, actually.

So now I have a cool new toy. Anyone curious, it's a Kershaw BlackOut,

OK. In retrospect, I was a little harsh on the company I ordered this
from in the first place. I'm 99% certain that Mozilla would have entered
my address on the form, so I wouldn't have paid too close attention
to it. According to the receipt I was e-mailed, the address was wrong
Lesson to you, kids: check the addresses on receipts you're e-mailed.

Anyways. Other than a petty game of who-gets-the-blame-for-two-transposed
digits [I'm willing to accept blame on it - I didn't check the receipt,
and I might well have typed it in in the first place], I'm impressed.

The guy at the company I've been conversing with has actually been
incredibly nice & helpful with me while I've been pissy. The knife was
bloody cheap in the first place. To be honest, I'd highly recommend this
place and am likely to buy from them again.
[technically it's, but that takes you to a
flash splash page which is IMHO criminally offensive nowadays, but what
do I know about web stuff anyways?]


Several months ago, I wrote this:
You'll notice there's a <snippage> there. Well, last time I spoke to the
rather gorgeous lass in question, she'd quit the telemarketing thing,
and I completely lost interest around the time she started scaring me,
and I got a new ladyfriend anyways.

Well, I was wading through my stuff, and given that I no longer have a
vested interest in a specific person not reading it, here it is:

In other news, I've spent the day at a conference of sorts. I won't
name the company doing it, but it's essentially telemarketing training,
with bonus legal pyramid scheme. Not something I'd really been expecting,
but since there was female interest involved, I didn't start throwing
things. [Or ripping anyone a new asshole. I had to do that to one guy
who rang me at 7am the other day.]

Oh. And it's not telemarketing, it's "referrals" [only inflicting
telemarketing on friends & family], and it's not a pyramid scheme, the
money just flows upwards, into ever-decreasing numbers of people, and
the people putting it into the system never get any out. It's only the
people who're in the system that get to keep any of it. Think "novel
business strategy for providing phone & electricity".

I think the real clincher was when the guy says "Most people, when they
say this, the first thing they ask is whether it's legal". Following
it up with "now - when you go away, don't tell your friends or family
about this; they'll think you're crazy". In a kind of "no - really -
don't tell anyone about this, it's crazy" kinda way.

And you're looking at one of these things where all these people,
who're essentially telemarketing their family & friends, are being
whipped into a religious fervor by some dude who's telling them how
much money they can all be making.

Literally, there were 700 people in that room, all of whom had disengaged
their brain and were being fed thoughts through their ears, essentially
doing so because of the threat of massive quantities of money.

I kid you not, I had imaginings of low-budget horror movies where there's
one guy in the middle of the room, capable of rational thought, and
wondering how everyone around him is being quite so hypnotised and
wound up. His eyes are like some far side cartoon - the only set of eyes
visible in the room, and widely twitching continuously around him.
Suddenly, without warning, everyone in the room picks up rocks & starts
throwing them at him. The ones with knives start flicking them. Cutting
the backs of their hands marking themselves and getting prepared.

Of course, it's not all bad - I've learned now & improved techniques
for convincing even the most reticent of family members to give money
to this. Mostly stuff involving "If you really respect me for who I am,
you'll do this for me", and "could you do me a personal favor?". Pretty
much stuff related to guilt-tripping people out, which is a technique
I've been learning from the American side of my family for years. It's
just never been this distilled and used as a teaching mechanism instead
of a way of convincing me to do stuff.

Seems the next conference on that scale [international, would you
believe?] is going on over valentine's day weekend, "so you can bring
along your spouse/ other half/ whatever, and have a romantic weekend
at the same time".


And, for anyone who gets the reference, the only company name that
popped up for a "we're in allegience with" mention was EarthLink.


Not only did UPS fail miserably on the computer thing [you know,
where they ship it to me instead of throwing it around like it's one
of my juggling toys], they've now managed to take incompetency to whole
new levels.

On Monday, an item is shipped via UPS to me. Second day shipping.

I look up in their tracking database on Wednesday that it's been
delivered. Except not to here, which is interesting, since I was pretty
sure that here is to where it's been shipped. Noticing on the tracking
info that there were various weird address confirmations, I attempt
ringing them up.

It seems the address on the label had two digits transposed. Fine,
sometimes that's just the way it goes. I can choke down a dumb
typographical error.

Seems that they noticed the address with the transposed digits didn't
exist, looked up Gary Briggs in their database and found some random
Gary Briggs that lives out in the great blue yonder or something. So
they deliver it there. I can't imagine how they didn't find this me, also,
with an address that's alarmingly similar to the one they already have,
except two digits are transposed and it actually exists, but hey. What
do I know.

They assure me that it'll be picked up on Thursday morning [was delivered
to Gary on Wednesday morning], and arrive on my doorstep "either Thursday
evening or Friday morning". For bonus points they take my phone number
in case there are going to be any problems.

Friday evening rolls round, I try phoning them again. Apparently the last
entry in their database they have regarding this was me ringing them up &
pickup getting re-scheduled for Thursday.

Not having contacted me in two days to tell me that it didn't happen,
I'm IMHO understandably stroppy. "We'll find out what happened and ring
you back in under an hour". An hour and a half later I try ringing
again just in case, since I don't have too great a record of shipping
companies bothering to actually contact me. Apparently they've no idea
what's going on, but will "ring [me] back in less than an hour", for a
second time.

This time it only takes half an hour to get back to me, and it seems that
they've no idea what's going on, but will find out from the driver when
he gets back, and have re-scheduled a shiny new pickup for Monday morning.

At least they've generously re-imbursed me. Or, apparently, will do. Or,
I'm guessing, will re-imburse the company that shipped it. Who have, in
all fairness, responded to one of my e-mails... Albeit only to apologise
for the errors that caused me to send the e-mail in the first place. And
successfully sent me something that probably qualifies as a weapon to
completely the wrong address to start this all.


PostScript scares me. I'd always thought it was just-another-image-format,
but oh, no. Oh, hell, no. It's a fully fledged programming language, "most
closely resembling FORTH". Basically, it's a big ol' stack-based language.

I was reading the "PostScript Language Reference, 3rd Ed" at the weekend
[or, to give it its recognised name, "The Red Book"]. It's the language
reference as published by Adobe. There's another book, "The Blue Book",
or "PostScript Language Tutorial and Cookbook" as Adobe like to call it.

I basically learned it for the sole purpose of this:
My application now has a print button. And not just for static images,
either :-)

What scares me about PostScript, though, is the startjob function.
When you send a postscript job to a printer, it stores it's entire
internal state. Then lets you do whatever you want. As soon as the job
finishes executing, the state of the machine is restored in preparation
for the next job. Which is a pretty sensible way of doing stuff.

Running with the usual well-let's-not-restrict-what-a-person-can-do
kind of thing, it's possible to actually leave your own [protected]
space and start messing about in the machine's space.

For example, you can arrange to have a clipping box put on every job
printed henceforth.
In other words, by merely "printing" about 4 or 5 lines, you could ensure
that this top-of-the-range printer will only ever print the bottom half
of each page until it's firmware is reflashed [or another PostScript
expert recognises what's happened and codes up something that replaces
that clipping box]

It scares me that this is possible.

Two things I don't like: There is no alpha blending. You get to draw
stuff using essentially a painter's algorithm, and you don't get to see
stuff you've overlaid.

Secondly, PostScript is primarily a PDL [page description language]
[duh]. But this means that you don't get certain features like
"delay". Display PostScript [a dialect designed for visual displays]
supports a stop-execution and resume-execution-based-on-an-external-thing,
but normal PostScript doesn't. So my juggling proggie dumps postscript
that busily prints stuff out a bunch of times before moving onto the
next frame. It's not pretty, but it works.


W00t. Finally got permission to release it all, joy & happiness abounds.

And I think I'm truly honored:
"This might be the strangest project we host to date"


Meet Bobo.

Poor baby. His mummy fell down at the weekend. No-one in the appt
complex knew her, but she's currently in hospital and we're hoping she
wakes up. In the meantime, I have an extra friend living with me for a
while. He's nice. Old, and looks like he's starting to get cataracts,
but a lovely animal anyway.

I finally made myself a decent bag for my picks, so now they're worlds
easier to get to and play with. How exciting.


I'm so proud! And geeky with it!

Last night I was watching one of the Family Guy episodes [in season 2,
the one where the guy in a wheelchair enters the wheelchair olympics]. I
know it's not much, but there's a bunch of blind guys walking around
with a big sign in braille that says "GO BLIND".

And I read that without having to look it up. Yay! I had a lot of trouble
because they do their capitalisation all funky. To capitalise a single
letter [eg at the start of a proper noun], you prepend a cell with just
the bottom-right dot in place. To capitalise an entire word, you prepend
two of those cells. In the show, they just capitalise each & every letter.

In the meantime, one of the reasons that I wanted to learn braille was
so that I can use a braille terminal. Remember Sneakers, anyone? Yes,
those really do exist. And if anyone out there knows where I can get
a braille terminal for an affordable price [or has one in a garage
gathering dust that they'd like to donate :-)], I'd love it.

See, I simply can't afford the couple grand these puppies seem to cost.

And other than that, jmdlx [] compiles and
runs just fine on windows, without modification, using Boodshed's DevC++.

Nice compiler, nice UI, free as in beer... I like this software.


Yay! Just got my new book from Amazon, that I only ordered in the furst
week of July. Ugh.

"Handbook for learning to read braille by sight", but Lelan Schubert.


In other news, you know you suck when "[the timer's] precision is
platform-dependent, but in general will not be better than 1ms nor worse
than 1s."


Hmmm. You know you use perl too much when the C++ toolkit you're
using provides hash tables and lists, and you use them as an
obvious-way-to-store-data. Mmmm. Dig those hashes-of-lists-of-classes.

For anyone curious, the project is

I've written the pattern loader, but haven't integrated it yet [I'm
storing the patterns using the above data structure]. I'm considering
myself seven kinds of lucky that my parser actually worked first time,
since debugging it wouldn't have been too entirely joyous.

Working on getting permission to open-source it, but the other two
authors are kinda hard to reach.

wxWindows still rocks, but it's timers are hideously inaccurate. I guess
I've been spoilt by spending months working on RTLinux :-)

Major pity that their website is really good-looking & easy to
use right up until the moment my desktop explodes, leaving me
without-a-functioning-graphical-web browser, and I need to download
something using lynx.

And aside from it being ugly as sin, wxWindows' documentation is
just as good as Qt's, IMHO, with the exception that wx has more
examples-just-when-you-needed-it. Which is nice.


I'm finally working on a random port that I got the source for many many
months ago, but never got round to actually porting [sorry, kids, it'll be
closed source, at least for a while... and of no interest at all to most
people out there - not really a game, I'm afriad :-)].

Since this doesn't run on Windows or Mac either, and is a generic C++
program, I've taken a stab at wxWindows... and I have to say that I'm
seriously impressed with wxWindows.


Not that it's depressing that this is my attitude, but I shaved this
morning and it's the first time I've /not/ cut myself since I got my
new razor. Yay!

See, I finally have a decent straight razor. It's niiiiiiice. In
all honesty, it's faster, easier, and does a better job than my old
Mach3. And I'm finally getting used to it, which means I avoided
lacerating myself in the process of using it this morning. Oh. And the
soap smells so much nicer than any foam I've ever used.

These are the highlights of my day.

And because I can't possibly write a .plan update without being
incendiary, I discovered yet another reason that the UK is so much better
than America - our flag looks MUCH better when it's used as a bandana.

Or any other time, now I come to think about it.


Equal Opportunities...
So, if "The university of York is committed to a comprehensive policy
of equal opportunities in employment", why in Hell do I have to fill in
a form that qualifies me as white, English, and not disabled, as part
of the application process?

Surely, in a sensible world of "equal opportunities", these facts would
be completely irrelevant, and actually actively avoided until /after/
one would begin employment there?

The sensible thing to do in my mind would be to hire people on the merits
of an anonymous interview where you can see neither their color nor how
many legs they've got, and based solely on their technical capabilities.

Oh, wait. I remember. Employers nowadays are forced to hire the token
black wheelchair-ridden woman, even if she's a fucking moron, just to
prove that they'll hire black wheelchair-ridden women.

Not, you understand, that I've had first hand experience of people
not qualified to do a job being hired just because they're a minority,
and then me having to clean up the broken remenants of their work...

When this .plan was written: 2003-12-03 12:12:17
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