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Conclusions On The Wall
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Andrew Gray's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, November 11th, 2010
11:59 pm
Internet now stable at "crappy" - third attempt at a router running, connection speed approximately mid-nineties dialup rates with ping times pushing anywhere from 200 to 3000ms. (Many thanks to elleblue and parrot_knight for help getting this far!)

Today's Armistice Day posts are on the blog; photographs of the Normandy cemeteries and notes on an appropriate, and underrated, book.
Monday, November 8th, 2010
4:42 pm
Technical help
I arrived back in the UK a week ago, and have been without internet pretty much constantly since that point. This is beginning to get annoying, though on the plus side it is an effective deterrent to spending money on ebay.

It is unclear whether the cause is the ISP or our hardware - the ISP are the likely suspects, given something similar happened a couple of months ago, but they're dragging their feet about actually working on the problem. So that I can close off the other possibility and thus lean on them some more to fix it, does anyone have a known-to-be-working ADSL router and filter they can lend me for a couple of hours one evening this week?
Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
6:53 pm
Another photo, of the sunset from North Bridge last night:


(Alternate version focusing on the Scott Monument)
5:55 pm
Clearing out the storecupboard : memory
Three (unmatched) 512-MB sticks of DDR-2 RAM - large DIMMs, suitable for desktop PCs. Two are 533MHz, the other I'm not sure.

Also one stick of 667 MHz DDR-2 512 MB - this is a SO-DIMM, the smaller ones for notebooks etc. I think this is 200-pin, rather than 144, but I'm not clear.

Free to a good home, but only if you can claim them before tomorrow evening...
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
1:42 pm
So, I have been promising myself a new bike for approximately six months - the last time I owned an actual new one I was, I think, ten. I keep procrastinating over this, which is getting silly.

So: advice. I want to buy a new, robust, perfectly standard sort of bike for use in getting from A to B over mostly paved roads on a regular basis. I would like, for obvious reasons, to do it in Oxford within walking distance. Before I go and do something on impulse - is there anywhere in particular anyone would recommend buying from, or conversely recommend avoiding like the plague? (Or any other advice, really, but this is the one part I am flying a bit blind on...)

Now, time for the other thing I've been putting off all year - a haircut. Perhaps this is the week for finally getting stuff done.
Friday, February 12th, 2010
10:32 am
mouldering habitations
So, lifting some boxes off the top of a kitchen cupboard yesterday, I found that, for some reason, they seemed to be sticking in place. A good tug and they came away, revealing a layer of quite unpleasant looking black mould which had grown between them and the wall.

The boxes went on the cupboard at the end of November / start of December, so that's two months, maybe two and a half, for it to spring up; I'm guessing they got pressed up against the wall, and then a lack of circulating air over the winter plus condensation on the wall gave good growing conditions.

So, this afternoon, I'll be throwing out the remaining boxes - the contents are fine, there's no food in them, just the outside cardboard is vile - and cleaning the wall. And then, I suppose, start inspecting the rest of the house - where there's one patch there may be a dozen. Bleh. Well, I suppose it's almost time for spring cleaning.

(Any useful advice on dealing with mould? I've usually encountered it on windows and wooden surfaces rather than walls...)
Monday, January 4th, 2010
12:37 pm
statistical risks of terrorism
Two posts on the statistical dangers of airline terrorism:The latter one is the more interesting - with the exception of the unusually pacific 1990s, the number of deaths (both in the air and on the ground) attributable to violent activity by passengers on aircraft is basically constant since the 1940s; around 150-200 deaths per billion passenger-flights, or one death per six million passenger-flights.
Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
9:38 pm
Oxford: book notes
The discount bookshop on St. Aldates - which has surprisingly good stock, all things told - has something interesting at the moment; copies of both The Yiddish Policeman's Union and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for £2 apiece.

I can recommend both of these fairly unreservedly; they have their flaws, but both are excellent novels and should you have not read either this is as good a pretext as any. I mean, £4, really.
Wednesday, November 11th, 2009
11:34 pm
Nothing involved and thoughtful, this year, but I didn't want to not note it. The atmosphere this year is slightly different to previous years; you can feel the gradual drift towards emphasising "and those presently". I suppose this is a cyclic thing...

Last year, I wrote that there are maybe a hundred and fifty thousand people - no doubt less now - in the country who can remember 1918, fuzzily, as little children. Tens of thousands will be old enough to have been permanently touched by it; to remember the awful hushed silences and the drawn curtains along deserted streets, or a strange man, dusty and unshaven, who came to the door one day after the shouting was over, and announced himself as Father.

And, of course, twenty years later they saw it all again; they had grown old enough to be the ones sitting in empty houses, or the ones sitting somewhere grimmer; and, for some, it all came around a third time a generation later, sitting and waiting to have a knock on the door and someone offer condolences for their son.

So, have a little sad music. Mothers, Daughters, Wives; I turned up a copy of this years ago, and have been haunted by it ever since.

(This version, despite being sung in a somewhat different voice to the narrative, seems to work a lot better; the original just doesn't quite seem to have the same emotion in it. This is worse than either, mind you.)
Sunday, November 8th, 2009
7:21 pm

Well, that's one task I've been procrastinating over for a while. Now to find all that half-written - well, more half-digested - material and start making it coherent enough to put online.

(The plan is to use this journal for personal material, transfer anything vaguely contentful there, and then use the fact that it exists as encouragement to actually do the vaguely-contentful writing. We shall see...)
Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
12:52 pm
I don't even want to think about this.
There is a list of phrases I hope never again to hear in my life. This article has just added a particularly choice one: "self-administered concentrated hydrofluoric acid enema".

(The sentence continues "...while intoxicated from intranasal cocaine administration." I suppose that helps explain certain questions.)
Monday, October 19th, 2009
8:41 pm
Online banking: another one not to use
I have just registered a savings account with Alliance & Leicester. This involved waiting for them to send me three letters over the course of a week - one with the account details, one with the customer ID number, and one with a five-digit PIN.

I then logged in. They made me create, as passwords:

  • a "phrase" linked to a randomly generated image;
  • a new five-digit PIN;
  • a new password (which couldn't contain non alphanumeric characters);
  • three "memorable things";
  • and quite possibly one other thing I've already forgotten about

Hum. I appreciate the principle of the thing, but I really can't see this one working out well.
Sunday, October 18th, 2009
11:24 pm
The vastly delayed booklog
Checking my records, I have apparently not posted one of these since August 2nd. So, what have I read in the intervening two and a half months?

In rough order...

...a list...Collapse )

Note (with a couple of exceptions) the absence of anything with particular, y'know, merit. It's been an easy couple of months; lots of fiction.

That makes... what, 130 this year, plus the three I'm currently reading? Hmm. Puts me on course for about 160-170 in the year, then. We shall see.
Monday, September 28th, 2009
8:48 pm
Dear internet: blogs
I have, sometime in the last six months, lost the RSS aggregator service I used to use; this is on balance probably a good thing, as it means the vast backlog of "keep this post to look at later" will no longer be there looming at me.

On the other hand, it means I am now reading very little, and I occasionally am forced to do productive things rather than procrastinate. So, to avoid this horror: what should I be looking at? Advise me!

(Assume I currently don't read anything, it's simpler that way)
Saturday, September 26th, 2009
11:57 am
A subtle semantic difference
This is a lovely piece of analysis of LibraryThing data - books tagged as "geek" versus books tagged as "nerd", filtered to avoid overlap.

("nerd" gets you Tolkein; "geek" gets you perl and cyberpunk.)
Monday, September 7th, 2009
8:59 pm
Today's carefully selected statistic
From the "outreach newsletter" of a university which shall remain nameless:
Job opportunities on graduation from ---- are excellent. For example, in 2007, 100 percent of our teacher training graduates, and 95 percent of our radiography and nursing graduates, gained employment within six months.
Spot the two reasons that might not generalise very well to most graduates in 2009.
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
11:49 pm
Advice wanted: mp3 players?
Among everything else, my mp3 player died today. Well, it's not dead dead, but it's dying; randomly hanging due to being unable to access the drive, which is not desperately conducive to doing its job. I rebooted it seven times in twenty-five minutes today, and got about ten minutes running time out of it at most.

I could try rebuilding it (for, what, the third time?) but that approach is probably into diminishing returns by now; it's six years old, and the chassis is now so battered that the power and headphone sockets need gentle treatment in order to work.

So, I should probably think about getting a new one.

...notes...Collapse )

Advice, please! What's out there? What should I avoid? Should I just buy an old Archos off ebay, a fresh hard drive, and take a screwdriver to it again?
Saturday, August 29th, 2009
11:14 pm
Today's pleasant discovery
Blackout - Connie Willis. (2 Feb 2010)

I think the phrase is finally.
Thursday, August 20th, 2009
1:10 pm
Bike query
As some of you may recall (I can't remember if I posted about it or not), last April my bike had a rather catastrophic collapse of the back wheel - the axle bolt sheared completely in half whilst I was in traffic. The wheel itself jammed into the frame, there were horrifying noises, and it was all quite a mess.

So, I walked it home, and that weekend bought a new axle and so forth and fitted it. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. I've had to reattach that a couple of times - the nut occasionally begins to work loose and the wheel "drops" in its housing - but it's not broken again. On the other hand, the back wheel's got more and more precarious over time; the brakes got jammed against it at one point, needing some complicated reworking to fix, I've had to wire the back mudgard to stop it chafing against the tyre; and now the whole wheel's inexplicably wobbling from side to side, about half an inch of yaw each way, no matter how firmly I bolt the axle.

So, today or tomorrow, I'm going to strip it all down again and see if I can get it working anything like smoothly. Unfortunately, I suspect this is a pretty deep-rooted problem, and the wheel itself - or the mounting point on the frame - might be screwed.

So, the actual request here: this is probably beyond my capacity to fix. Can anyone recommend a bike repair shop in Oxford (preferably not too far from South Oxford, since I'll need to walk back), who'll be able to look at this and fix it for a reasonable price for me, or alternatively tell me upfront if it's beyond help? I should try and get this fixed before I have to commute again...
Friday, August 14th, 2009
9:01 pm
Finally, finally, British politics has gone past the point of diminishing returns.
Health Secretary Andy Burnham has accused a Tory MEP who attacked the NHS on American TV of being "unpatriotic". [BBC]
"Unpatriotic", hurrah. There really isn't much left for them to accuse each other of, is there?
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