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Posts from 01st Aug 2005 to 31st Aug 2005.
Today
   at 01:30 on Sat 27th August 2005
Today, I go on Holiday. Well, I say that... but in UK time terms, I'm in transit today and I don't actually arrive until Sunday. But still, it's exciting.

However, it's not half 1. This evening I've had friends and friends of friends over to my flat. It's been great, I've even met new people. Before coming back here though, we popped into Cromwells where Erin was working. She said she'd come over after work. 20 minutes ago I got a phone call from her saying she'd be here in 10.

And I've finished my chors. I've washed up and got my flat into a state where it won't grow things or smell stale when I get home. All I've got left to do now is sort out which clothes I want to take and pack them. But I want to get some sleep before I do that. I'd rather wake up early and do it then than do it now and get less sleep.

But since I'm waiting for Erin to pop by, I'll get sorting clothes. Actually, it's a good idea since I leave the flat for my coach in a little over 6 hours.

[Edit: As I pressed Enter, she arrived. So I'll let her off. :P]

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This time Tomorrow
   at 20:12 on Fri 26th August 2005
At this point tomorrow, I'm going to be somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Actually, I hope I'll be over it, but if I'm in it, Flight BA289 LHR to PHX will be in the news.

I'm unbelievable excited. I feel like a little kid again, it's great. I think I've got almost everything ready for the trip. The only thing I've forgotten is to charge up some rechargable batteries for my camera, but I'll grab some from the Dixons at the airport since I'm going in there anyway.

I probably won't blog whilst I'm out in the States, but I'll be writing down any thoughts and excitement I have and there's not a better place to write up my thoughts whilst they're fresh in my mind than here. So I shall do that with accompanying photos.

"Bon Voyage, Matt!" I hear you cry.

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Gate Gormet
   at 10:59 on Tue 23rd August 2005
I'm a little worried about the talks that're happening at the moment. Gate Gormet are threatening to go into administration at 5pm unless British Airways agree to a new contract worth more money to Gate Gormet.

BA are saying they won't give the new contract unless Gate reemploy the 600 workers who were sacked last week. But Gate Gormet aren't budging on the move and say the cuts were necessary for the continuing operation of their company; They're currently losing 25 million per annum.

If Gate Gormet don't cave in and re-employ the sacked staff, then the Union has said they will ballot for strike action. And that's the bit that scares me.

A few of days for balloting and counting puts the industrial action at the weekend. Just when I want to fly out to San Diego. If there are strikes at the weekend that cause distruption to my flight, I'm going to be really quite upset; I've been really exciting and looking forward to my Birthday holiday for so long now, if there's any problems I'll be so pissed off.

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by Clare at 09:49 on 25th Aug 2005
On an unrelated note, this time last year we were on a train heading north!

They were the days. :)

by Matt at 20:08 on 26th Aug 2005
Them were the days! I'm firmly in the mindset that the next couple of years are pay-off-debt-and-start-to-save years just so I can go back to that lifestyle. Going where the wind takes me and doing what pleases me for the moment. I just need a beautiful companion to go with me!

by Clare at 12:49 on 27th Aug 2005
Sounds like a plan to me :)

Have an entirely excellent holiday, m'dear!

Search Engine Ranking
   at 17:18 on Mon 22nd August 2005
I've hardly every written a techincal blog entry, so the style is probably all wrong... But anyway, if you have your own website and are interested in it's search engine scoring, you might learn a thing or two waste some of your time by reading this:

All everybody cares about when promoting their website, whether commercial, personal or porn is their ranking in the search engines, primarily Google.

Google ranks pages based on it's patented trademark PageRank. It's a really clever system where each page is given a base ranking value. The number of links to each page whether internal or external to the page's website is important. For example, if one of my friends blogs links to me, I get extra PR.

The amount of PR I get from this friends website is dependant on their own rank and the number of sites they link to. If they have a PR of 5 and link to 10 websites then I get a tenth of that PR5.

Each of my blog entries links back to the home page so their (admittedly minimal) PR is given back to my internal links. However, the menu down the left appears on every page, so every page in my site gives some PR back to my 8 internal links under "Navigation" and the 9 external blog links. So, if you're linked by me you get PR for every page I have.

If I were to remove the external links and most of the internal navigation links, every blog entries PR would be given entirely to my home URL (www.kloopy.com/) subsequently increasing it's page rank. This increased PR will be spread amongst the links from the home page anyway, so I might end up doing this.

You can, of course, via excessive linking or a rapid increase in page content or links to/from your site, damage your PR. If you want to increase your PR, you need to get others to link to you slowly and add site content slowly (since each new page gives your entire site some extra PR).

Each page has a PR value that only Google knows. However, it scales every page's PR onto a 1 to 10 scale. You can find out a page's PR by using the Google Toolbar. The sections 1 to 10 are not a linear scale, to progress from PR1 to PR2 is far easier than progressing from PR7 to PR8.

Google uses the hidden PR values to help sort the search results for your search terms every time you search it's index.

Basically, with this introduction to PR, I can now tell you what I've found out...

I was linking to http://www.kloopy.com/latest from all my pages. This page is exactly the same content as http://www.kloopy.com/ on it's own. However, because Google cannot confirm the two URLs give the same page, they are treated as entirely different pages. Both oh those links on my site have PR5, which is pretty good since most other friend sites I have checked are PR4.

What I've done is update my website so that http://www.kloopy.com/latest doesn't appear anywhere. I'm not aware of any external links pointing to that URL so hopefully all that internal PR that was being split to it will not go to my root URL and increase it's PR further.

As an example of how good my PR is, check out the Google Search for Leeds Festival Photos. You'll see that, at the time of writing, Google returns three photos. The one on the left is mine and my Gallery links appear on page 2 of the result.

I wonder what I'm doing to get my PageRank so high. What ever it is, if you want to link to me let me know and we can do some PR swapping if you like!

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Last Minute
   at 11:23 on Mon 22nd August 2005
One of the subsidiaries of lastminute.com, the company, are clients of ours (actually of mine, I guess, as I'm project manager. Hehe.) at work. Which is pretty cool as their Internet Booking Engine service (which offers flights with hotels and car rental) is used by many sites. Many many sites, in fact. So when their IBE finally encorporates my project we'll be serving out to a lot more people, and you'll all be able to use my work for free! http://www.lastminute.com is one of those sites and it's a bit of a popular one!

Anyway, I didn't come here to gloat, I came to share an amusing page I found on the lastminute.com site. If you browse over to their website and look in the top right hand corner of the page, you'll see a link saying "The boss is watching - look busy" and if you click on it, you get this page: http://www.lastminute.com/site/main/boss_page_spreadsheet.html.

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Holiday
   at 00:28 on Mon 22nd August 2005
You've no idea how perfectly timed my wonderful 21st birthday present Holiday is. I cannot wait to get out ot San Diego and see Laura and have a holiday and relax and... oh my god, I want to go now.

I just need to get away. I've been quiet for a few weeks, felt down and like I want to have all my free time to myself rather than with friends. So... To help myself begin to get into the mood and chill out, I've set myself some tasks for the week.

I've been bumming around for weeks now, spending far too much on socialising and not checking my finances. I know that the past few weeks will have put me in a SHIT situation. And that's -really- stressing me out. I need to make a nice finance spread sheet and budget for the first time in my life. I'm determined to go away knowing that my money issues will begin to be more rational on my return to the UK.

I'm going to start eating properly. I have a freezer full of nice food but I've been ignoring it. I've been eating out (part of the problem outlined in the paragraph above.) but that's all going to change. I'm going to (after shopping tomorrow) have sandwiches for the rest of the week without eating out at lunch.

I'm going to get my clothes washing up to date rather than washing stuff when I need it. I've got a pile of clothes that really need washing, especially since I'm about to go away for 2 weeks.

Thinking back to money, I'm going to transfer the money I owe Chris for gas/electricity bills finally and if I can't re-find his account details, I'll write and send him a cheque.

I'm going to wash all my plates up, clean my kitchen and bathroom and hoover throughout my flat, probably on Friday so that I leave the place in a state I want to find it in when I get back. This includes emptying my overflowing bin (probably tomorrow, actually.)

And finally, and probably most difficult, I am going to abstain from alcohol for the week. I can't turn down a free glass of wine or two on the flight out, but I can stop for this week. It's been costing too much and I think drinking most nights is the major cause of my feeling down. It is, after all, a depressant.

So, feeling really quite strong and confident, I'm going to go to bed. If I fail any of the above points by the end of the week, I'm going to be upset with myself. I need to knuckle down and accept the responsibilities that come with owning a home and having a full time job. The student life style, I have discovered, just does not work in this situation.

Sleep well my pretties, and put your thinking caps on. Mid week I'll be wanting your help compiling my "things not to forget" list whilst I pack. Sweet dreams.

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Results Day
   at 11:31 on Thu 18th August 2005
So it's A-Level results day again. It's really interesting to read the views and opinions of teachers, past and present A-Level students and the general public on the claims exams are getting easier.

I totally agree with the fact that they are, both at A-Levels and University I was using just one or two past paper to practise exam revision because further into the past than that, the exams were noticable more taxing.

I've read many teachers saying they have seen exams get easier. But I think the main reason pass rates are going up is because students are being taught how to pass the exam rather than being taught their subject.

Exams these days are very predictable with questions being of the same form year on year. This means that students need only remember a small portion of their subjects and when in the examination room simply pour the small amount of knowledge onto the page. It's a simple test of short term memory these days, not a test of ability in the subject.

But whatever your opinions, it's impossible to argue against the fact that with pass rates continually increasing, we're not getting enough differentiation between the outstanding candidates, the good students and also poor work. Universities and employers can no longer use A-Level grades to pick out the stronger students.

Also, I would like to make A-Level students receiving their results today, remmber today, and after completing a University course look back on today. The stresses and hark work they put in won't seem anything like they do now after 3 years of real learning in their chosen subject at University.

For me, University put things into perspective, I know appreciate that GCSE and A-Level courses really didn't teach me all that much, they just taught me to get through the exams and grab a few certificates on the way.

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March Meet
   at 17:26 on Wed 17th August 2005
I've been asked a few times in the past couple of months whether I'd organise another March Meet. Details of the old meet can be found here: http://www.kloopy.com/marchmeet.php. It was great fun. I've got fond memories of it.

I've been convinced for a long time though that the special friendships in the Planetarion community have weakened and that there would be less demand for a second event. So if you're anything to do with Planetarion or would otherwise like to come to an event full of computer geeks for a big drinking and socialising weekend, let me know. If over the next few weeks I get enough interest, I'll run March Meet 2.

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Lifes Ambitions
   at 18:18 on Tue 16th August 2005
Now that I've got my Internet installed, I thought I'd pop by, let the world know I'm still alive and say a quick hello.

I've always had a passion for travel, as I'm sure I've mentioned to you before. But after speaking with Catie and Laura about travel in general, and doing the whole "want a girlfriend" thing at the moment....

<Interlude>Did I mention that Laura and I mutually split up a few weeks ago. I wasn't sure at the time if it was right. But in hindsight and looking back on my decisions at the time with a clear head, I think it's for the best. She's absolutely fantastic and "being friends" is the best way for me to keep her as a close friend long-term. So I'm happy.</Interlude>

...I have decided that I want to kiss one girl, the same girl, in all 7 continents. I bet that you don't know anyone or even know of anyone that's kissed the same person in all the continents, have you?

No, I didn't think so. So when I've done it, you'll be able to say to all your friends that you know someone who has. It's just a case of finding someone foolish enough to be willing to take the challenge on!

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by Andrew at 22:28 on 16th Aug 2005
Antarctica is going to be an interesting one...

by Matt at 22:32 on 16th Aug 2005
That's already been brought up. So I think my new chatup line is going to be "Will you kiss me somewhere on Antartica?" rather than the whole Polar Bear thing... which I should really blog about soon.

Creationism in School
   at 12:02 on Fri 5th August 2005
I admit that I used to refuse to consider religion at one point in my life. But recently it's been something I've become more and more interested in. I find the faith people can have in their religion, without any scientific evidence or personal experience to back it up, absolutely fascinating.

I've never been able to truely believe in something that I've not experienced or had explained with supporting evidence. I don't see how people can.

However, I'm all for personal choice and freedom of speech. I think we should all be able to make the important decisions about our beliefs without being pressured into anything. I'm as much against science being forced upon students as I am against evangelists.

So it's interesting to hear George Bush's comments on introducing Intelligent Design theories into the US education system. ID is just a front for creationism however. The idea behind ID is that life is too beautiful, too complex and too perfect to have evolved and it suggests evolution is non-existent due to the numerous holes in it's theory. However, it doesn't go on to suggest how life did come about.

Needless to say, as soon as school children are introduced to the idea that life was intelligently designed, they will ask WHO the designer was. And that leads directly into the controversial world of Creationism and Religion, most commonly Cristianity beliefs.

Now this is all very well, as long as evolution and science isn't thrown out of the window. But it's a little crazy to be teaching something like ID to kids. I don't quite get it.

We're meant to learn about life and to prepare ourselves for the big wide world whilst we're in education... It's one thing if Bush believes in ID, but I find it even harder to accept that he wants to teach kids the groundless theory.

Evolutionary theory certainly doesn't explain how we are and how we got here perfectly, it does indeed have many holes. However there is a good scientific base to the idea and has alot of physical evidence to support it. In essence, it's a valid theory.

There's nothing to support Creationism however, nothing I've ever heard about at least. It may well be a strong view, but I certainly wouldn't want my children to be taught circumstantial theories. It would surely put the idea in their heads that they can go through life without questioning, at the very fundemental level, life.

And that's the reason I've become interested in religion, I want to understand how people can unquestioningly believe in their God(s) and the rules and regulations of their religion. Without proof, without experience and without gaining anything material in return... it seems such a beautifully simple state of mind.

No offence intended, of course. ;-)

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by Mac at 13:50 on 11th Aug 2005
Brrrrrains! Unrelated, but I thought I'd let you know that our bulldog line is, shockingly, up and running without any problems. Perhaps everything will be ok.

Programming
   at 09:47 on Wed 3rd August 2005
This afternoon I've got a half day off work so that I'm in for the BT engineer to install my phone line... at last! First thing I'm doing when it's installed is ordering ADSL and once I have that, I'll be able to blog a bit more frequently.

However, I thought I'd take a few moments out of work to pen my appreciation to the University of Southampton for their method of teaching. When it comes to programming, they didn't teach me a particular language, they taught me about the theories of languages, the difference between functional and declarative languages, all about procedural, object orientated and logic languages. They also teach the theories of data structures and algorithms and how to implement them in different types of language.

Basically, all in all, I'm able to take the knowledge and apply it to programming languages I've never seen before and still be able to code... It's just a matter of learning the syntax and a few builtin commands or modules which can be done in a matter of working days using books and the Internet.

I say all this because this morning I realised I'm doing some pretty advanced javaScript, coding an entire reporting system into the browser. Where before, I'd never really used jS apart from the showing and hiding function I use for comments on my website, I'm finding this fairly easy.

Kudos to the UoS.

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by Huong Duong at 18:15 on 15th Feb 2006
Vietnam Shopping: hotel reservation, tour operator, car and visaservice...

by Hao Xuan at 04:35 on 17th Feb 2006
Vietnam property: house, apartment, villa...