Posts from 01st Nov 2004 to 30th Nov 2004.
This evening I received an email that made me stop and think, unusualy about the project that I work on for paid work.
My parents want a new computer system so gave me a budget and asked me to purchase an entirely new computer. On recommendation, I went Dabs.com
and filled my basked with all the necessary bits. I made absolutely sure that every item I ordered was in stock so that the computer would be delivered by the Friday (I ordered on Tuesday) since I was vising my parents this weekend.
When the order page told me my order was awaiting stock I was curious so filed a support request with their support team. The responce was awful and didn't answer my question of whether they were in stock (according to the website) or not.
So I decided to email the managing director, since housemate Chris knew his address. I received a responce within a few hours. He explained how a lot of their competitors showed the stock they had in their warehouses aggregated with the stock they had at the manufacturers already bought by them.
Dabs used to, apparantly, distinguish between these two types of "in stock" but the recent culture of buying by price alone, not support, meant that customers were going to those website which showed items being in stock, even if they weren't.
David Atherton, the MD, explains how Dabs was forced to switch to using that slight deception because of the disregard for previous service brought on by price engines.
The whole tone of his email was stressed, tired and exhausted. He is blatantly against the way the UK industry is becoming the `American "as we say or not at all" world`.
I was personally very happy that he took the time to respond and explain why I had experienced the apparant disagreement between the website and stock control system.
But it made me think, my project for paid work is a price engine for the low cost flight industry. There are many engines out there, but we're the best (of course). But for the first time, I've begun to think of the implications for the companies involved rather than the excitement about creating a webservice that can find flights from 100 airlines and book them without the user even knowing where they bought their ticket from!
I now wonder what effect the internet will have on the economy over the next 20 years or so as ecommerce becomes even more popular and as we use price engines to ensure we get the best deal going.
I for one, would love to go back to the old company/customer personal values that I remember existing even in my own life. The trouble is, I think, that the internet bandwagon is going far too fast to change direction now, sad as it is.
[Edit]Apparantly I was one of 10 "the truth" tests he was trying this evening. It worked for me.
`Another guy asked for dimensions on a flash card and I said you don't
need them, you're just testing if we have people. And he agreed.
I hate people like that, who waste other's precious time. When ever I send correspondance it's always because I have a proper need, not as a stupid test like that.
And to close his email he wished me a good night. How often is it that the managing director of a huge company like Dabs does that. I shall sleep all warm and fuzzy tonight.[/Edit]
Crap crap crap. Coursework is a strain on life. It's a pain in the arse. I've got eBusiness which still isn't finished. I really needed to get it done before the weekend because I knew I'd have no time over the w/e and that on Monday I'd have to write my IT Profession stuff and then on Tuesday I'd have to review 4 5k word papers.
I'm getting snowed under. Ouch.
And I could really do with a thesaurus that has antonyms (if that's what they're actually called.) I have been told it's a good thing to phrase things in the positive form. For example saying "He completed the project within the time limit" rather than "He was five minutes from going over his deadline." And shit like that. But I can't think of decent happy phrases this late in the day.
I quite enjoyed the Cube last night, I don't think I got too many crotch buddy warnings however I got to talk to lots of girls.
I managed at final count to flirt with 34 women, with a fairly good response in general. I was trying out my chatup line;
Excuse me, do you know the average weight of a polar bear?
Just enough to break the ice, my name's Matt.
Mostly, they'd laugh and tell me that it's better than most lines they'd heard. However some did give constructive help. For example, according to one girl, the best chat up line is "Hi, can I buy you a drink?". And there was Rebecca who I chatted to for about 5 minutes, who seemed rather lovely actually. Oh, and the one who asked who'd put me up to trying the chatup line. And then the one who thought I was hitting on them to whom I replied "No, just wanted to see how the chatup line worked." which I now realise might not have been the answer with the most successful outcome.
I should've quit whilst I was ahead really, because on the way home I tried it with two girls we randomly saw on campus. Their were the only negative responses all night; "That's shit, sod off."
Admittedly, I quickly forgot about them because we were entertained by finding part of a rowing machine in a skip on campus and taking it back as this weeks beer trophy.
For some reason, I'm listening to Blink 182 and really enjoying their lively happy style. Yay. Been swimming, been to the bar, eaten and soon off to the Cube for a night of chilling, drinking and musical happiness!
...me from making bacon sandwiches though. Yum.
I now realise why we're always advised not to leave coursework to the last minute, even if we think we're academically capapable of finishing it within minutes of the deadline.
I know full well that I could complete my eBusiness coursework today, but this morning my hand is worse than yesterday. When we went bowling, I did one strange bowl and must have pulled some muscle or something in my hand. I've pulled my hand away from the keyboard 6 times whilst writing this already it aches/hurts that much.
Being able to type 5 minutes at a time before it hurts to hold my hands in the keyboard position is going to be quite a hindrance to my coursework.
For some reason I've had a desire to get a nice quality picture of a pine forest, looking up through the trees. It's a nice picture in my head and I'd like to see it on computer.
I remember using Webshots
years ago when they were completely free and I was very impressed with them. But now, they charge to download their high quality photos and to download more than one photo at a time.
So I decided that I'd subscribe. For $3.99 I'm planning on being a member for one month, downloading all the decent stuff and then cancelling the subscription. Hopefully, there won't be any problems.
I'm not sure whether you're aware of this one particular, and very special, time. It occurs once a day and has a huge effect on many people worldwide.
At 23 minutes to 2 in the afternoon, at precisely 1:37pm, at 13:37, we collectively experience leet time.
I've done many things during the minute of leet time before. I have been walking, in a lecture, in a car, on a train, in a bus, eating, drinking soft drinks, drinking alcohol. I've been gardening, washing up, doing coursework and playing games.
But, until today, I had never spent leet time.. diving. Today, for the first time in my life, I was mid-dive for leet time; a completely exhilarating experience. I continued to dive a further four times until we ticked over to 13:38.
I feel special.
Yes, there's some pun with three/tree. I couldn't think of anything else. But basically, I've just spent the last hour procrastinating and I've come up with a nice D(ish)-HTML page that contains all my mp3 collection in a collapsable/expandable tree.
You can view it here
. And the source here
Now, it's too late to do anything substantial on eBusiness coursework, so I think I'll go to bed and read for a bit.
I don't remember ever talking much about music here before. I started my coursework in silence and was wondering what was wrong. Eventually, I started Winamp and went through a couple of tracks on shuffle until something I fancied came up.
I'm not listening to Morceeba, and they're so good. Why haven't I been into them before?!
By the way, I think I'm sober now.
Last night Chris, Hayley and I went bowling, then spend about 6 hours in the kitchen drinking wine and playing Chess. (By the way, when I typed the word wine I felt physically ill. :/)
I got drunk. Very rather really drunk. Now this morning, I've been up 20 minutes; fallen over in the bathroom when I yawned because I absent mindedly forgot that dispite yawning, I still needed to keep my legs still and stand up; had two pints of water; and still feel more dehydrated than the Atacama Desert.
You might be thinking, why is Matt up at 9am. The question on my mind is whether there are any rules about turning up pissed to a lecture. :/
I've done it. 4000 words, just over 6 pages. I hate the style of language it ended up with, though that's probably my fault. And I hate the structure and I hate all the writing I do unless I choose to do it.
But still, it's out of the way until I need to do my second draft in about a weeks time.
The next piece of coursework is my eBusiness Website. But that can wait, I've got a Multimedia Systems website to design. Shit thing is, I'm in no mood for web design, I want to chill out, it feels like there's too much blood in my body and that I'm bloated and going to explode. If you get what I mean.
I'm so bored and fed up with the paper I talked about in my last post that I'm procrastination to new levels...
I've been googling for topics such as "Motivation problems with academic work". Alot of the sites that are returned talk about motivation in infant and primary schools. Alot of emphasis is placed on parents and teachers encouraging work by prasing things that children do well or work hard on. Appreciation is one of the basic things, apparantly, that spurs us on to work hard and produce good output.
Perhaps that's the problem I have at Uni, the fact that there is no praise what so ever. It's one thing having friends tell you they like a bit of your coursework or something you've done as a hobby, but I can't remember a single point in my nearly two and a half years at Uni where a piece of my Uni work has been given praise by a lecturer or staff member.
I don't mean to sound egotistic or attention seeking, but when someone goes that little way to be nice, it produces a lovely warm happy feeling.
It's like when I was in ASDA yesterday, buying food for the week I was feeling faint and stressed. The lady behind the counter was absolutely lovely. She chatted lots and put a smile on my face. But the main thing was she took £1 off my shopping, for no reason but "good will". She said that out of everyone she serves, it's probably someone like me (as a student) that'd appreciate it most. And I did. It was wonderful.
I don't like it when people feel they have to do something nice, but it'd be good if it was done more often, as long as it's completely genuine.
Due to a high workload and, in part, to laziness, I've ended up having this weekend solely to research and write my paper for the Multimedia Systems Conference.
It'd be a suitable point to say now that it's shit and I hate writing long things like this, even if it's on a subject that excites me. I find writing, even if it's technical extremely stressful and annoying. Rah.
But the point I wanted to make was that for the first time I realised the effects of a small amount of alcohol. I realise that the limit for driving a vehicle is 2 UK Units but I've always questioned the effect this has on your ability to think and react to stimulation.
For the past hour I've been sipping just one glass of Tia Maria and Orange Juice (it's so nice it deserves the capitals). And I'm already finding it really hard to concentrate and produce the English language for the thoughts running through my head. I'm finding myself writing and re-writing each sentence a number of times until I even vaugley find something that relates to what I want to say.
You can always tell when I've been writing compulsory stuff, because my hair is on it's end as I've run my hands through my hair so many times!
[EDIT]I think this is what's stopping me from making a start on my third year project write up.[/EDIT]
I've completed about three quarters of Halflife 2 now, and so I think I'm able to give my first impressions at this point.
It's a great game, I can't think of a single thing that's actually wrong with it. The graphics are immense, the AI is brilliant, the weapons are well balanaced, the storyline is well thought out and the enemies are varied and interesting. The gameplay and feel has even modernised and progressed from Halflife 1.
However, I can't help thinking it's not as good as most people around the world are making out. It's already received nominations for "Game of the Year", "Best FPS Action Game", "Best PC Game" and "Best New Technology". I agree that it should be winning awards and that perhaps it is the best game out this year, but theres something not quite perfect about it...
I think the problem is that, for me, HL1 was one continuous action/puzzle gameplay, it was well paced and fun all the time; Whereas in HL2, the action can get drawn out a little too long and some "chapter"s end up with me asking "when is this going to finish".
In HL1, there was clear progession right thoughtout the game. But in HL2, the sections of the game are clearly defined. I think back to the airboat chapter, to the coast road chapter, to the mines, etc, and I recall them clearly. The graphics and gameplay are ace in all these sections. But there isn't anything that really links all these consituent parts of the game.
In HL1, I got a sense of the geographical layout of the game, but with this sequel I find myself wondering where I am and what I'm aiming for. I've read interviews with Gabe Newell (co-founder of Valve, who produced HL2) and he says that alot fo the storyline was cut down because it was too overwhelming and boring. Perhaps they've taken it too far.
But still, as I said, it's an amazing game, exciting, adrenaline rushing and absolutely amazingly beautiful. Fairly high marks from me.
I've purchsed the Sexy Silver version of Halflife 2 from Steam
, which is great. I've preloaded the whole game and I'm just waiting to play it as soon as Valve, Halflife2's creators, unlock it.
There was a statement made by Doug Lambardi, the PR guy for Valve that said basically people who buy the game through their content management system, Steam, will get it as soon as people get the retail game.
Many people, internet wide have understood this to mean that as soon as a copy is sold, legally, in a shop somewhere in the world, Valve will release the game via Steam for all the people in my siutation to play.
I'm hoping that this doesn't happen, as after the lecture I'm about to go to, I'm spending the weekend with housemate Chris's family, helping them move into their new house.
So, Valve, Please don't release the game just yet. Wait until Tuesday, the official release day. Tsk.
So it's like 2 hours later and I've only just discovered that I have a carpet in my room.
The sun is shining which is nice. However, the downside is that it's illuminating the dust really well; sitting just a foot from my monitor I can only just make out what I'm typing.
This room can't have been healthy. :)
[Also, I've updated the timezone on this server, so subsequent posts won't have really strange times and dates.]
First thing's first; I'm not going to be able to start working properly or feeling good until at least my bedroom is tidy.
I can't use my desk when it contains:
- 13 glasses
- 1 empty bottle of wine
- 2 cans of beer
- 1 can of coke
- 1 bottle of coke
- 3 random CDs (probably now too scratched to use)
- and - Oh My God - a Portswood Chicken Burger from about 12 days ago. Yuk.
I wish I'd not chosen to list that now. Oh, and there under the plate are the two drum sticks I thought I had lost.
It\'s nice to have a blog, it can act as your gateway to the world. And the world has a great nack of being anonymous and non-personal. One can talk to the world very easily via a blog without fear of chat-back or insult. It can act as someone to talk to.
It\'s wierd, there are so many people I know I can turn to and talk to on a serious and emotional level. I\'m feeling quite stressed at the moment, simply because I know where I am in my long-term emotional cycle.
I\'ve been on this downward facing slope many times before and I recognise it now. My social life, Uni work, paid work, and other things take up more time than I have. There are loads of courseworks and my 3rd year project, lots of things to do at work and friends to spend time with too.
But I seem to be only getting about 4 hours of useful time out of each day however hard I try, uncontrollable apathy. I think what annoys me most is that while I\'m stressed I\'m groggy, apprehensive and confrontational with my housemates and friends.
Anyway, if I say anymore I\'ll come across more down than I am. I think I just need a few nights good sleep to get awake enough to do some productive and useful work on all these concurrent projects.
*gets changed for bed*
At the start of the weekend in Southwold, I was bitten by some small insect bug thing on my right middle finger.
My whole finger and right hand is massively inflamed, red and extremely hot to the touch. I was recommended by the kind lady in Boots Pharmacy that going to my GP immediately was the best thing to do. So it can't be as unimportant as I thought. I shall pop along to University Health Service tomorrow if it's not improved at all.
But, I wanted to find out just how hot my finger is. As a control, my left finger skin surface temperature measures in at 28.6 celcius. The damaged right finger is currently flaming at 32.8 celcius.
And it's so damned itchy.
As you're probably well aware if you're in the UK, there was a pretty bad train crash at some level crossing between Newbury and Reading this weekend.
When the news first came through, my Dad, Chris, Andrew and I all played a simple wager. The entry was £1 and you had to guess correctly the number of fatalities from the incident there would be at precisely 8am the following morning.
I guessed 6 deaths. I was right. I was all the cash.
Excellent. (Sorry to any of those who were affected by this nasty thing, our bet comes with no intended offense.)
It's great. I was planning on seeing my parents for two weeks at the end of the Summer holidays. But things cropped up at work and I was unable to which means I've not seen them for months.
This evening, Chris (housemate) and I are travelling up from Southampton and Andrew (ex-housemate) is coming across from Birmingham.
And I'm really looking forward to it. :D
`Paul and Mist|zzz, two friends from the internet, spent the weekend with us in Southampton. It was damn good fun all the time... at least for me.
For those that have an ounce of interest. On Friday night we had a couple of drinks at our house and then went up to the Union via the chip shop.
During Saturday we went into town, skipped Shakeaway because of the queue, but collected a huge amount of cardboard, duck tape, wallpaper, etc. You see, I was making an outfit for the Halloween party in the Cube. It was good fun, that night, despite the outfit being an absolute failure and me giving up on it.
Apologies to anyone at the Cube who saw Chris and I accidentally looking up when our seats were accidentally next to the stairs and when amazingly attractive girls accidentally were walking up or down the stairs. Heh. Good fun, if a little naughty.
We went to Portswood, to the Charcoal Grill for food after the Cube. Most of us had chicken sandwiches, which are the most tastey burgers ever created. Both our guests agreed on this point.
During the day on Sunday, we went over to Portsmouth to visit three other people we know from IRC. I really enjoyed it, since I haven't seen them since well before the Summer. We had a meal in a pub by the water and then went down to the sea front for a gander. I have to say, with the setting sun and the clean front, I saw Portsmouth in the best light I think I've ever seen it.
`Paul flew back to Manchester on Sunday evening which left Mist|zzz, my housemates and I to go up to the Quiz night at the Union. We did poorly, as we always do, but it's was fun none-the-less.
After the success of eating from the Carcoal Grill on Saturday night, we went back to Portswood for food. We spent a total of £31 on chicken sandwiches between 6 of us. It was absolutely insane, which did admittedly get us a free portion of chips and a free bottle of coke. Two chicked sandwiches consumed by me, this time.
Anyway, that sort of sums up the weekend briefly. It was a damn fun time, in my opinion and I can't wait until we have them back. :-)
The trouble is, I'm behind on 3rd year project and paid work, I've got a mini assignment to do for tomorrow and I've got two birthday cards to buy and send, also I need to update Laura with my alcohol count. She won't be impressed with this weekend's. :(
Best get moving, really.